The Pain, The Pain
I've been thinking recently that being a parent is making me a better doctor, and in this week's Grand Rounds, (http://emeritus.blogspot.com/2004/12/grand-rounds-12-welcome-to-12th.html), a post at The Cheerful Oncologist echoes my thoughts somewhat.
For me and most of my cohort at medical school, life has been comparatively easy. I enjoyed the benefits of a stable home growing up, "child-centered" parents, a safe community, and an excellent quality of education. I had the privileges of a very expensive education and then medical school. All of this was not without its hard work and sacrifices, but mostly in comparison to my classmates along the way who worked less hard, studied "easier" things where there aren't necessarily right and wrong answers to find or avoid, and who went straight into the workforce at age 21-23 without all of the exams and overnight calls.
Now I have a little girl, who is the light of my life, and even the slightest threat to her well-being, emotional or physical, causes me to become nearly paralyzed with a gnawing, tearing, chest-pain.
And yesterday after I operated on a very nice 70-ish woman (for benign reasons), I went to tell her middle-aged sons that Everything Is Going To Be OK, and I could see their palpable relief, and appreciate it in a new way. I got to be the agent of destiny that showed up with good news.
All of this makes me more sympathetic. Not that I was unsympathetic before, but now I can really empathize with the stress and fear that come with medical hardship in a way that I don't really think I did before.