The Duty And The Reward
Highly educated and informed, Mrs. Vinodini Bapat came with a worried face about a year ago. Her MRI had shown a tumour. When I told her that it was likely a large Tuberculoma (A tumor mass caused by tuberculosis of the brain), she was naturally very worried. There was no definite way to know if it was a cancer.
After a long discussion based upon what she researched herself, helped by her loving husband and daughter, she was convinced that we can take a chance and start anti-tuberculosis medicines.
I was quite pleasantly surprised when I found that the whole family had completely trusted everything I had explained. To be very honest, doctors expect disbelief and multiple opinions mostly with the well educated and literate patients. However, although they asked many questions, tried and understood every step in the treatment, they were extremely polite and cooperative.
The test time came when her brain swelling increased, as happens with some Tb patients in the first few weeks if starting the treatment, and she threw a mini-fit. We had to admit her and treat as an emergency. Many questions popped up, but the family was as cooperative as ever, with complete trust.
The medicines caused many side effects, and we adjusted the doses to suit the patient best. She was extremely patient and tolerant in spite of so many ups and downs.
Now, one year later, Mrs. Bapat followed up today with her fresh MRI scan: the brain was now completely normal, there was no trace of tuberculosis. The tumor had disappeared!
When she handed over this beautiful note written for me, I told her that she and her husband were extremely cooperative and I was grateful for that.
Then they told me what I Wish every medical student learns: that it is important not to get annoyed with patient’s questions so long as they are relevant, to understand that it is the patient’s desire and right to know the details of their illness, treatment options and side effects, to participate in decision making, and above all, to be treated respectfully with compassion.
Educated patients who keep their faith in their doctors intact, and ask relevant questions without paranoid accusations should not be misunderstood. It is the duty of a treating doctor to honestly keep all the cards on the table and let the patient understand and participate whenever possible.
Once again my day is blessed with the ultimate rewards in medicine: a happy patient and words of gratitude.
©️Dr. Rajas Deshpande