As, an individual, I have always been lucky when it comes to issues concerning health. In my entire life history, I have had the Lyme disease once, a corneal ulcer that was caused by windblown grit while I was kayaking across the Baltic Sea, a kidney stone that was caused by dehydration, a benign AV nodal reentry tachycardia and intraocular pressure. Many males in my family history had glaucoma, but I was an exception. I have never suffered from any Pulmonary/ Neuro/GI/ Rheumatologic issues or taken any chronic medication apart from Xalatan which helps me with my intraocular pressure. Nevertheless, as a medical doctor, I have met people from diverse backgrounds, whose medical histories are otherwise quite unremarkable.
While practicing as a medical doctor, I once met a patient who, together with his network of supporters impacted positively on my life. My patient was a middle-aged man who was suffering from a posterior/inferior infarction. I led him to the cath lab to be stented. His wife and two children came to be with him in the ICU. It is imperative to note that the process of medical care is similar to any other complex project. It involves a technical part which is carried out by the doctor, and there is a people part. As a doctor, I did a remarkable job on my technical part together with my nurses, and we were highly congratulated by our patient and his network of supporters.
On the other hand, I was really impressed with the way my patient’s wife and their two children managed the people part. They were constantly building the confidence of my patient through encouraging him that everything would be okay, that returning home would be safe, that the quality of life would be better and that his future was bright. They stocked his refrigerator with low-fat vegan foods, helped him in interpreting patient education materials and discussed with him lifestyle recommendations in a very proficient way. In addition, they helped in managing the entire process of transition from inpatient to outpatient.
In deed, I came to realize that in as much as hospitals are great places, which deal with medical crises, through the help of professionals like me who can medicate, operate and heal, the broader social context of healthcare that includes the orchestration of emotions, regaining the cadence of day to day life and calming of fears requires a satisfactory support system. In the past, people lived together in extended families or clusters within their communities. However, with the present-day challenging economy, rising specialization of employment and relieve of long distance travel, modern societies have lost most of the family support systems.
What I experienced at the hospital was an incredible union of a virtual extended family in support of their affiliate. His former employees, colleagues and employees converged together to support him. My patient was rarely alone during his stay in the ICU. In a planet that is full of competition for resources, road rage, and lack of civility, I felt very obliged to experience healthcare that was supported by the community around my patient and his family. My patient was in a difficult circumstance, of a heart attack, but our collective effort brought about a good outcome. He went back home and resumed his usual routine and I believe that the love and respect that he was granted by his network of supporters will never depart from him.