What My Patients Taught Me

There is a lot to learn from each other, in my case, my patients – they really taught me and are continually doing so, the core of our calling, thus the title. All the insights written on this blog were all drawn from listening and just being with them who continuously define “passion for profession” for me. My conversations with them go beyond the diagnosis but it also carries on the goal to get to know them better, I’m wired that way, in some cases their symptoms turn out to be not medically-related but it is at times emotional baggages that’s causing them to be stressed and distressed at the same time thus manifesting itself as physical symptoms, so listening is just as vital as physically examining them, and so I start my notes as follows –

1. Do your heart a favor. Exercise it because it is made up of muscles after all. The more love you give, the bigger it gets. Don’t mind the return because it always does. I learned this from a patient who has cancer and despite being alone during his treatment cycles he still manages to smile and care for others with similar conditions.

2. Making one person smile can literally change the whole world. Not the earth though, but the person’s world and that in itself is divine.

3. Sometimes emotions need not be rationalized all the time. That is why they are called feelings, you are supposed to just feel it and acknowledge that it is truly there. If you cannot stand its presence then express it. There is more to gain in expression rather than suppression. And so I just cry if I feel sad for a patient who is terminally ill and on the opposite end I celebrate happy times with the rest.

4. The secret of life is not in a fountain nor in a pill instead it’s all about just experiencing each day one at a time. Been there done that.

5. In life we will always have an unspeakable secret, an irreversible regret, an unreachable dream and an unforgettable love but we are always blessed with “magic.” – the magic to reverse all these to make them speakable (the truth shall set you free, right?), reversible, reachable and the last one will still be unforgettable because love is always there, it’s just its definition in you that may change. Open your mind and heart. Give it a chance. Each day is precious.

6. We all have EGOS but life is about compromising with it- what it wants to do, what experiences tells you to do and what you have to do.

Having said all these lessons I have learned from patients made me realize that we all have to take it easy on ourselves. Let us not allow the world to make us build sturdy walls around us and make us hard. Let us not allow pain to make us hate whatever and whoever made us feel such.

Be true to your words. Respect everything. Listen more. Welcome change. Be unafraid to grow. Quiet your mind amidst all the noise that surrounds you- remember meditation is the new medication. Open your heart (again and again). Extend your hand. And most of all now is the best time to begin living and loving with everything you’ve got.

In Psychology, there are basically three archetypes on how an individual responds to events, situations and relationships in life. The visual type are those who has to see to believe, the auditory type are those who need to hear to believe and the kinesthetic type who are those who need to be touched, those who literally need a human shoulder to cry on, a pat on the back or a hug, just to make them feel that everything will be just fine. Choose your archetype. It is possible to respond to all three types but only one will be your major mode of response to life’s challenges, so to speak. And that in itself is healing to patients in every encounter. Every patient has a different story to tell. Know them well and learn.

Not all medicines come in a bottle. The best ones are prepared from the heart and administered with dedication and compassion.

Not all things are taught in medical school, although access to education is a human right, your definition of self and your individuality should not be defined by the diplomas on your wall and degrees you have earned, rather it should be defined more by the lives you have touched in your journey in our timed life. I am a firm believer in emotional quotient. You may have an exceedingly high intelligence quotient but in reality it is not really what should define you as a person. I believe everybody has a vocation, and thus everybody has a purpose.

Emotions are enigmas. Emotions are meant to be expressed in whichever and whatever way you want it to be. Spontaneity is the spice of life, just like sugar– makes everything nice. Emotions should not be pent up. And with that, yes, I cry with my patients and they’ve taught me that it is indeed cleansing.

Moderation though is a primary key in keeping emotions healthy. It is in choosing how to express these that should be thought of carefully. I was made to always revolve around the paradigm of avoiding decisions when experiencing the extremes of anger, frustration and loneliness. My endless gratitude to real friends who constantly remind me of this. It takes sheer strength to live by this but at the end of the day it never fails to work.

I have learned the art of discontinuing to ask “WHY?” in some cases simply because it’s just the way life has been planned for all of us – well-orchestrated plans. Sometimes it pays to go out of the box to be able to live life to the fullest. That’s one real treasure of life lesson I learned from a young patient suffering from a degenerative disease.

Stay true. Believe in the enigma of your present moment. Let go and live and love freely. Express whatever it is that you have suppressed, you might have been missing out on what you have been longing for in your heart and soul.

My deep gratitude to all my patients who have touched my life in more ways than one. Cheers to life!

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