Why you are not an ordinary patient
Wouldn’t we all agree everyone is different? Wouldn’t we also agree that we have all different stories? Then, why should I expect you to be an ordinary patient? You are unique and extraordinary. You have your own stories that no one else knows. So why should I treat you like I know? I think that is a good common ground to set with any interaction of healthcare.
As a pharmacist in an outpatient setting, I used to interact with patients every day. Patients bring all kinds of stories, nuances, lessons, and fun. However, what always bothered me was that many patients had darkness on them as they come and go in the interactions as if they were sinners of some sort.
Even if you, as a patient, are not proud of your past or present, please consider being proud of it. Life is hard, as we all can agree, and you have come this far whether you are in your 20s, 30s, 40s,…you get the idea. Future isn’t determined yet and you should not predetermine your future by shaming yourself of your past, present, and even future.
Many patients have stigmas themselves when they come to healthcare. We are all patients, though. We are on the verge of being a patient at any time even if we are perfectly healthy now. If anything good has come out of this pandemic, I feel the realization of this notion should be one of them.
I am an optimist and I truly believe everyone has the power to change for the better, not because you are never satisfied with yourself but because you are aware and accept that there is no perfect person. It is a subtle difference in looking at the same life. I ask patients to advocate for themselves, but this tendency of shame and guilt can affect the ability negatively.
I had this conversation with a patient when I noticed it was his birthday while verifying his date of birth for his prescription.
He was picking up an antidepressant and I said with excitement,
“Oh, I see it is your birthday today. Happy birthday!”
“Thank you…I didn’t even realize…it is just another day.”, he replied with a matter-of-fact tone and a sheepish smile.
“Well, I don’t think so. You made this day special. You should totally celebrate!”, I said with sincerity.
“You know…I really thank you for that!”, he replied with a big smile after a few minutes of thought.
I was not sure what he was thinking, but I could see I did impact his perspective.
Is it your birthday today? Happy birthday! I totally think you have a reason why you are on this earth. I also feel there is a reason why I am writing this today.
We all become patients at some point in our lives. Instead of shaming yourself, let’s choose to be hopeful. I am hopeful you will get better and I hope this message warms your heart today.
This is a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before. ~Maya Angelou