September 27, 2012

I'm sorry

To my patients: I am sorry.

I am sorry for waking you up, the third or fourth person this morning to do so, just so I can ask you the same questions everyone else has asked.

I am sorry that when I listen to your heart, I listen for so long, hunched over you, eyes closed.  I am focused on what my ears are telling me...that your heartbeat is normal.

I am sorry that when I ask you to take deep breaths, you nearly hyperventilate while I listen intently to your lungs.  Bodies make very strange sounds, you see, and I am learning to know which ones are your crackly lungs and which are your empty gut and which are from the hospital gown rubbing against the stethoscope.

I am sorry that I cannot answer all your questions, that when you ask me how things will go I shy away from telling you what I know, fearful of being too honest, or worse, completely wrong.

I am sorry the hospital bed is uncomfortable.

I am sorry that when I examine your abdomen, or press on your legs for edema, that I cause you pain.  I never want to hurt you, but I have to know where it hurts most and how much.  Sometimes I forget the frailty of the body.

I am sorry that it takes so long for anything to happen, that between me seeing you at 7:45am and the doctor coming in at 10:30am, it seems like nothing has been done and the intervening time has dissolved into oblivion.

I am sorry you are sick, and our treatments are not pleasant.

I am sorry you are dying.

I am sorry you think it is your fault.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn't.  It doesn't matter.  You can cry with me and I will hold your hand.

I am sorry you are alone.  I will sit with you a while.