All. The. Lessons.
She wasn’t just a diagnosis. She wasn’t just a case. She had a family, a Life. She had been my patient for well over a year. That’s unusual. In the surgical world, patients go back to Real Doctors after their incisions are healed.
But not Alice. Alice was a conundrum. And over the weekend, she ceased to be my patient anymore. She ceased to be anyone’s patient anymore.
When the final diagnosis came and there was nothing left — no treatments to throw at The Disease, no clinical trials to enter — they told her she had four to six months. Four months would have put her right in the center of the holidays so she let me know she was shooting for six.
Alice — always the optimist.
COVID stole her vacation this summer. She and her family never got to gather. And that’s just one more damn thing the pandemic has cost.
This breaks my heart as much as anything, for we will all face The Next Thing one day. But to have lost the opportunity to share love and laughter while on the journey is a very sad state of affairs.
I beg you not to forgo your opportunities to connect with those you love. Never waste a minute with anger or self-pity. This is the lesson my patients teach me over and over again. All that remains is the Love we give.
Please remember Alice. She wasn’t a diagnosis. She wasn’t a case. She was a Human who wanted her next six months.
What will you do with yours?
The patient’s name and circumstances have been changed for privacy purposes.