(Disclaimer: I received verbal consent from my patient to share about my experience with him.)
Last week, I wrote about a patient of mine who almost died… twice. And I was there with him. I have been visiting him regularly and I am happy to announce that he is now stable. After a month of not seeing his wife, he is now at home with her. 🙂
The weekend before his final operation, I visited him the Friday before I went off to Stockholm. I told him I was going home to sing. He told me that he wishes he could hear me sing sometime. He told me he enjoyed jazz, and so I decided to learn “Fly me to the moon” by Frank Sinatra to perform it the same evening. I showed him the video the coming Monday and was happy to see him smile, laugh and slightly calmer before his upcoming operation. However as he was still nervous, I decided to follow and observe his operation, so I could be there with him as he lay there during his awake surgery. He was grateful.
Last week, a patient of ours suffered several near-death moments, and I was there with them. Since then, I've been visiting him daily to see how he's doing. Yesterday, I told him I'll be going to Stockholm for the weekend to sing. He then told me he wishes to hear me sing sometime, and I asked what kind of songs he enjoys. Jazz I was told, and so I decided to sing "Fly me to the moon" by Frank Sinatra later that evening, so I can show him the video when I return to the hospital on Monday. Just on time for his discharge the next day back to his family 😊 I hope he'll think this song is jazzy enough!
Right before he went home, I visited him for one final time. As usual, laughter and words of wisdom were exchanged. Before saying goodbye, he asked for my name on a piece of paper so he would remember me. I wrote my name down and handed it to him as I told him his full name. I will never forget you either I said.
So to remember him not as a patient but as a person, here are a few wise words from him that I know I will bring along with me throughout the rest of my life. Things I learnt that is not because he was a patient, but because he’s a person caring for another. Note, most advice were aimed at my lovelife…
“Gör något som du brinner för. Om du inte brinner för det, sluta. Annars kommer du inte göra bra ifrån dig.”
“Do something you’re passionate about. If you’re not passionate about something, stop. Otherwise, you won’t excel.”
“När du träffar någon ska det gå långsamt, så att du hinner se både fördelarna och nackdelarna av en person och kan göra ett bra beslut”
“When you meet someone, take it slowly so you have time to see both the pros and cons of the person to make a good decision”
“När du är i ett förhållande är det DU som ska bestämma, så att allt går som du vill att det ska gå och du blir glad”
“When you are in a relationship, it is YOU who should decide, so that everything will be how you want it to be and you will be happy”
“Gör alltid tid åt din familj, i slutändan är det de som alltid kommer finnas där för en”
“Always make time for your family, because in the end they will be the ones who will always be there for you”
5. And last but not least my absolute favourite… (I hope you guys understand I’m always laughing each time he gives me advice on my lovelife)
“Om han inte kommer eller gör någonting för din skull så är han inget att ha”
“If he doesn’t attend or do anything for you then he’s no one for you to have”
Oh dear patient of mine, I hope you are enjoying your time drinking red wine with your wife at home. I will never forget you!
In the end though, what did I really learn? Medicine goes a long way, but empathy goes even further.