As a physician, there are moments during the day when you must deliver a disheartening diagnosis to your patient: pancreatic cancer, ALS, leukemia, and unfortunately, the list goes on. The patient must face the harsh realities that are now placed before him/her. Those realities, at times, leave him with a very small window of hope for improvement. Sometimes, solutions cannot be found with the use of a scalpel, chemotherapy, or the use of innovative drugs. Your patient may very well be overwhelmed by what he is facing. If we were to witness the turmoil that such a patient might experience, it may give us a better understanding of how important it is to listen to the patient’s story and to become a partner in walking beside your patient.
There is a voice within me. I am encircled in this box of emotions: fear, anxiety, stress, anger. Why did this happen to me? Why me? From all the billions of humans who inhabit this earth, why me?
I wait for an answer, but all I hear is my heartbeat … a beat racing out of control. “Stop feeling sorry for yourself,” an inner voice tells me. “You were chosen to endure this hardship.”
My faith in my Creator is being tested. Questions seem to go unanswered. Am I a true believer or not?
The doubt in my worthiness to face the challenge screams in my ears, deafening the voice of common sense. Darkness surrounds me, and I am sinking into the mire of despair.
Have I completely lost it … myself and my faith? Why am I playing the role of a martyr?
From within me, from that small space where my soul resides, a voice cries loudly to the heavens: “Lord, I can’t face this alone. Please stand with me, please save me, as unworthy as I am.”
A calmness overtakes my body and heart, a comforting warmth surrounds me. I am not alone in this challenge of life, for He stands beside me, now and into eternity. I will face this and every obstacle in this life, knowing that I, indeed, do not stand alone… He stands beside me, leading the way. And His light fills the darkness.
When the tools of modern medicine and the skills of highly trained physicians simply cannot heal the patient in the physical sense of the word, we, as patients, can find “healing” through our faith, and for many, that is enough to get from one day to the next. Godspeed to all.
Michele Luckenbaugh is a patient advocate.