UNTHINKABLE? Probably! But INEVITABLE? Absolutely!
Tears – A sign of weakness or strength – we had endlessly debated on this issue during our student days. We had scoured through case histories, dissected personalities, critically analysed life situations and even dangerously tilted close to being prejudiced. We had swayed with the patient and justified or questioned the patient’s actions and intentions, we had passed judgement on whether or not it was right or wrong on part of the patient to behave as he did and the best part of it all was that it dramatically brought out our own viewpoints and attitudes and brought us more in touch with ourselves and our basic nature.
Group discussions were the medium through which we better understood ourselves, our deepest desires and funniest fears and the driving factors of our life! Provided, of course if we took it in the right spirit and did not feel victimised in the process. So then, the verdict was that tears in itself did not signify weakness or strength but the subsequent adaptability of the patient to the circumstances would eventually decide the survival, or lack of it.
Having gone through a gamut of emotions during the training period, it can be least surprising therefore when a committed interaction with a patient was capable of stimulating tears in one’s eyes. By tears I mean a sensitivity and a level of involvement with an issue which can ‘touch’ you. This can happen in any scenario both within and outside the clinic premises. So, when something resonates with one’s deepest nature, one is ‘touched’ and consequently the sensitivity finds expression through an emotion. Which, if intense enough can provoke tears in one’s eyes.
How important then, is our sensitivity as a physician? Should we allow ourselves to be carried away by the patient’s narration? Or should we refuse to get involved in the patient’s life and maintain a stoic aloofness? Who or what decides the extent of this involvement with the patient? Are there any guidelines which we can follow to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted functionality as a physician?
Our first and foremost responsibility as a physician is to ‘cure’. Restore the patient to his previous premorbid level of health in all the domains of existence. As we embark on this journey we realise that a human being has many dimensions to his life, so also a patient seeks answers to his troubles and not just on the physical plane. Although he may primarily come to us with a diagnosis, our role as a homoeopath places us in a position where we need to integrate all dimensions into a complete, comprehensible ‘whole’! Herein lies our role as a Friend, Philosopher and Guide and we can hope to achieve that from an active engagement with the patient and his trials and tribulations. When the patient feels that ‘Connection’, ‘Catharsis’ begins!
In this process of dynamic interaction, it is inevitable that we learn from the patient in many ways if we are open and sensitive enough. It would be too presumptuous and egotistical to imagine that we are in a position to preach to a patient and to allow no vibrations from the opposite direction to affect us. The phase of constantly seeking to learn ….and a willingness to unlearn….so that new learning is possible…is something we should always look forward to and any opportunity at this cannot be lost in our ultimate travel towards being unprejudiced.
So then, what is the spectrum of emotions that a patient can evoke in you? It is simply not possible to be a friend, philosopher and guide if we stay on the fringes and refuse to engage. And an active involvement will surely take you on a tour of some very basic emotions within you as you relate to the patient’s pain and ecstasy. When a patient talks about the most trying circumstances in his life, you have to first FEEL the pain and then decide whether you need to FLOW with it. Try balancing out your emotions with a fine analysis of the situation and you have a tough task on hand. Therein lies your SKILL as a physician!
Cases which tend to move you from within are those which are declared as beyond the realm of homoeopathy, and those that respond to this wonderful system of medicine. I remember a case of perianal abscess which the surgeon had declared was to be operated on, as the abscess was deep within layers of fat and if not incised was sure to remain there and create complications like a fistula. The Similimum acted within 21 hours and the pus drained completely. The surgeon was astonished and predicted a fistula. When nothing of the sort happened, he just gaped in disbelief ( hopefully one down on the non-believer’s list)! Or the case of Diabetes Mellitus which had presented with osteomyelitis and non-healing wound with sclerotic calcaneum and multiple fistulous openings.
Debridement was done still the wound refused to heal with profuse granulations and persistent suppuration and ulceration even 2 months after the procedure. The patient was given the indicated medicine with local application and within 2 weeks the wound healed completely! All Allopathic medicines and local applications had been discontinued prior to starting our medicines. Or cases where some little known medicine has worked wonders in clearing acute viral and bacterial infections without the aid of any anti pyretic or antibiotic. Or chronic cases where the similimum acts like anti hypertensives or statins or disease modifying agents or anti diabetics….the list is endless.
There are just a few examples of a huge reservoir of cases which every homoeopath has treated and cured not to mention those acute emergency ones treated in hospital settings. My query is, after years and years of practice, do we still derive the same pleasure from treating such cases or do we take them for granted as just one more feather in our cap? Do we sit and wonder at this wonder called homoeopathy? Do we feel the gratitude towards Dr Samuel Hahnemann and other stalwarts who have given us such immense satisfaction of treating patients rapidly, gently, permanently? Do we feel blessed to have learnt this branch of medicine which has never failed to deliver if practised thoroughly and according to principles, keeping in mind the scope and limitations? Do we have a habit of reflecting on our successes and failures and then rejoice or lament on the hits and misses? If we do all the above and more, then we are bound to get tears in our eyes!