“You saved my life. You literally saved my life when no other doctor would listen to me.”
There are months I do my job without pausing to reflect on some of the biggest cases I have encountered. Sure, it feels amazing to successfully be the one to resuscitate a patient (my hands were on the chest as I called out orders for medications to be given during a code when suddenly our whole team saw the patient come back to life). There’s nothing quite like catching a disease early and removing the cancer before it spreads. I will never happy-cry more as a doctor than when I have delivered babies and heard parents cry at the first sight of their newborn.
However, there is something magical to be said about written words that gracefully are said about your patience to listen. To pause and reflect. To hear. This was the case from the quote above. A young female patient had been to several specialists with no answers for chronic pelvic pain, and after we talked and I, well, listened, we were able to get to the root of her concerns.
So, we ordered tests. No abnormalities came back. We ordered imaging. Still nothing. I listened more. We decided to keep going, and when the specialist was puzzled, the patient and I spoke even more. We knew it was something, so we kept trying. Then, we found it. Two surgeries later, chronic disease removed, she is pain free and loving her life. When she visits me now, she hugs me and tells the student rotating with me that I am the doctor who saved her when no one else would listen. She doesn’t say “fixed, healed, operated” because I was not the surgeon, nor was I the one to make the final diagnosis. She tells all my staff I was the one who listened.
Holding space for them has made all the difference, and, because of her, there is no other way I would ever choose to be.