Thursday, May 04, 2006

Breaking news

I received an email yesterday from a family friend asking me to take a look at a sonography report of his sister and give my opinion on it. I agreed to do so not knowing how difficult it might become for me. This person's sister is in Calcutta. The sonography report was generated out of a lab in Calcutta. As I briefly read the report I suddenly realized that I was looking at a report of someone with possible kidney failure. I did not have any lab reports to validate my suspicion but the report seemed pretty unambiguous.

To my friend the report made no sense. All he had deciphered was the kidneys were smaller in size bilaterally and that some tests were being suggested to confirm parenchymal damage. Yet with my limited knowledge it seemed quite apparent to me that the patient had some major renal damage. Which brought me to the question about how I wanted to tell our friend that there was something really bad going on here. Like I said before and also being mentioned here, I know the right thing would be tell the family exactly what was going on, so that they could get the much needed treatment. Yet, I find myself in confusion, hesitating about how I should break such unpleasant news. And I realize how hard it is for doctors to be the bearer of bad tidings. No matter how hardened you are and how the years have seasoned you through watching endless sick and dying patients, it never changes. You always have a hard time breaking bad news to the family. You feel obligated not to crush the hope that the family has put in you. People think doctors are miracle workers. That they can always provide cure. But there is so much one can do.

I wish I could tell my friend that all was well. But I could not. I had to tell him the truth. Sometimes I hate having to do this.

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16 Comments:

Blogger Seashells said...

Sometimes, calling a spade a spade is a tough thing to do, albeit the right thing to do.

I don't think that people think of doctors as miracle workers. Not anymore, not in the educated society. They do however hope, pray and wish for miracles...

6:01 PM  
Blogger sapna said...

Hi M

Am glad you have come back to blogging, chanced upon your blog and found it really a nice little space:)

Its hard to break unpleasant news.. hope u and ur friend find the courage

11:46 AM  
Blogger Prerona said...

Its a hard thing to do, but i guess, like you said, it must be done

12:10 PM  
Blogger Prerona said...

all the best

12:13 PM  
Blogger Patient Portnoy said...

I know. I had to break the news of her mother's death to someone recently, and it was awful. Till I realised that I was dwelling too much on how hard it was for me to tell her...

I had a bad time, selfishly, I guess. But now I think only of her

1:14 PM  
Blogger Grafxgurl said...

i guess some doctors get numb to it...hope that never happens.

12:01 AM  
Blogger True Blue Guy said...

All I can say is you did the right thing. Hell, if something is wrong with me, I'd definitely like to know

cheers, have a lovely weekend

1:08 AM  
Blogger Bonatellis said...

hmmm .. tough call

12:43 PM  
Blogger Bidi-K said...

that is tough. but i do hope that your friend's sister gets diagnosed properly and treated soon.

3:27 PM  
Blogger starbender said...

Awww, that has really got 2 B the worst part of that job! I don't know if I could handle it or not. I'm more into making people laugh!
Sorry about U'r friend. Hope all goes well.
:)

12:07 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

Its terrible to have to break bad news like this to anyone. I havent had to yet *touchwood*, hope I never have to. What did you do finally?

Oh and I am sooooo glad to see you back here. For sometime I thought you were off blogging for good, missed you :)

1:29 AM  
Blogger Ghetufool said...

give the link of your blog to your friend.

12:48 PM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ seashells unfortunately yes.
@ pearl thanks. And thanks for coming back.
@ prerona thanks and nice seeing you here.
@ patient portnoy I know what you mean. It is definitely harder for the family.
@ grafxgurl I hope not
@ tbg thanks
@ bonatellis it sure is. But I told him. And I believe it was the right thing to do.
@ bidisha thanks and I'm praying too.
@ starbender you have such an enviable job then. I would love to be the source of happiness to people. And thanks for stopping by.
@ ron I told him. I had to. Glad to be back too.
@ ghetufool I already told my friend. I hope things work out for them.

11:46 AM  
Blogger ubergeek said...

A hard decision is easier if you look into the future and see that the easy answer now means harder times ahead. Trust me, this is what I've come to realize.

7:02 AM  
Blogger M (tread softly upon) said...

@ ubergeek I realize that too. Except sometimes the first instinct is to shy away from hard decisions.

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a lot!
» »

8:37 PM  

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