Sunday, April 28, 2013

Family Medicine Activist: "All My Patients Die"

#HAWMC Day 26

I was behind a small truck at a stop sign years ago and noticed the words, "All our patients die." Abel Pest Control Doctors was the company name displayed above their slogan.  Quickly I realized that "all my patients die," too.  I am a Family Physician.

Birth to death, cradle to grave I don't stop being their doctor because of a life transition, like getting cancer or a hip fracture, or graduating from high school.  They, and I, eventually all die.  Am I going to take up the slogan of the Pest Control Doctors and put that on a sign in the waiting room, on my business cards or in my directory listing?  No.

Why not market the blunt truth of where all my patients and I are headed?  I think it's because we each know the finiteness of our lives in our own way.  And we like to reflect on our mortality through our own lenses.  Do Family Physicians therefor avoid mention of end of life issues?  Do we hold back on musings about the human condition relating to life span or death?  No

We are blessed with a vision of life and death that whispers an ongoing message of hope.  There is beauty in humanity.  There is truth.  There is a spirit that touches our Family doctor hearts with a sense of thanksgiving for the opportunity to serve and share.

The same vision sometimes delivers individual despair and hopelessness reminding us of a darker side of life and humanity.  How do we relate to these people and these situations?  With a heavy heart, tempered with a broader awareness of how heavy hearts are shared across the human condition and comforted with a part of eternity that is forever at peace.

Will that peace somehow find troubled hearts often enough for Family Physicians to continue to serve, care and share?  Do we still believe that, even though, "All our patients die", being a Family Physician is worth it?  Yes. Yes. and Yes.

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