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Doctor-to-Doctor Insight: Saving Souls and the Magic of Sharing Joy

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer
heart of doctor empathetic listeningEditor Note: It seems as if physician stress, discouragement and professional burnout are common. For validation, there’s a fresh research paper or national survey is in the news every few months. Many doctors don’t want to be doctors any longer.
But far less frequently—if you look carefully—you can find a spirit-lifting story on the positive side of the doctor-patient relationship and patient experience. Our friend Dr. Neil Baum provides the following story…and a snapshot of the wonder that doctors can bring to patients and their families.

Guest Post by Neil Baum, MD

My medical soul was lifted after reading an editorial, A Wedding In Intensive Care, in The New York Times by Dr. Haider Javid Warraich.

The story describes a terminally ill lady in the ICU whose daughter’s wedding was to take place in a few months. The doctor informed the daughter that her mother, who was on IV opiates, would certainly not be able to attend her wedding.

The crying daughter called her fiancé and told him that her mother would was very sick and would not be there for her wedding. The fiancé stepped up to the plate and suggested that they immediately arrange the wedding and to hold the ceremony in the ICU. The entire ICU staff—doctors, nurses and administration—went into “let’s make it happen” mode and organized a beautiful wedding in the ICU.

The patient stopped her pain medication for a few hours to be “in the moment.” The wedding was beautiful and one that will be remembered for a lifetime by the family, the doctors, the nurses, and the entire ICU staff. The next day the patient was transferred to hospice and all the tubes and IVs were discontinued in order to make her comfortable.

Dr. Warraich concluded, “Doctors often share their patients’ sorrow, but rarely their joys.” This lovely story should help all doctors focus on the wonder that we can bring to our patients and their families.

We are part of an amazing profession that affords us the opportunity to not only diagnose and treat diseases, but also to make magic happen for so much of the world. Perhaps we can collect such stories and write our own Chicken Soup For The Doctors’ Souls.

PS: Four months later the patient was still alive and doing well in the hospice environment.

Dr. Neil Baum is a physician in New Orleans and blogs at Dr. Baum’s Urology Blog. This article originally appeared on his blog and was submitted for use with permission of the author.

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