Yesterday I came face-to-face with the man who gave my mom the news that would change all of our lives. He gave her the diagnosis, he gave her five years (if she was lucky, he said, but not likely at the rate she was “deteriorating”), he gave her the brutal reality of the disease and he handed it all over to her on a platter devoid of hope and compassion. He even took a social call in the middle of the appointment and went about his life while my parents stared at the floor where theirs lay in pieces. Since that day almost 6 years ago, I have harboured a special kind of distaste for that man.
I have thought about writing him a letter. I have pictured myself storming into his office, words flying. I have contemplated writing a review on those online rate-your-doctor sites. I tried to stuff him away so that he would disappear. He didn’t disappear and neither did my anger or my grief or my sorrow for what my parents had to have experienced sitting in his office.
So the Universe stepped in. It got me in his office, in the patient’s chair of his sterile clinic. It got me to face my demon – my own anger. Thankfully, after an extensive exam and detailed questions, it was determined there was no physical need for me to be there. But boy, was there ever an emotional one.
We talked about my mom and I needed to do that with him. She wasn’t just another sick person, my tears told him. She was my mom and I am what’s left. I nodded when he suggested, “It must have been so tough to watch her go through that terrible illness.” Your patients are people with families. Sometimes when they leave your office they have to tell their children they are very, very sick. I am the after-math. I saw that he understood that; his eyes were no longer just scanning my body for signs of a connective tissue disease. He could see the ripples of his words in my quivering chin as I blink, blink, blinked to stop the tears. “You are going to be fine,” he said without a hint of condescension. I know that because my mom told me that before she left.
I looked him in the eye as I stood to go. We shook hands, this man and I, this man who was the physical representation of my fury. I walked back out in to his waiting room where an elderly woman waited for the doctor’s time. There’s your next patient. Handle with care.
I am sharing this experience with you, dear Readers, because I want you to look at your own demons. What are they? Where are they? In whom are they housed? The next time you find yourself in a situation that evokes a strong emotion, ask yourself why you are there. Because there’s a reason. The Universe, in its helpful way, will put you in that seat. You might make it easier on yourself if you put yourself there first.