For Mikkael A. Sekeres, M.D., attaining the desired result for some things in life — the courage to pass through the forceful current of a waterfall, or getting cured of cancer — requires trust:
[…] I turned again to my daughter, asking her if she was all set.
She nodded and came over to me. I wrapped my arms around her and we turned, our backs to the falls. “When I count to three, hold your breath and I’ll pull you through. O.K.?”
“Yes,” she squeaked, and closed her eyes. I counted, and she took a deep breath as we collapsed into the wall of water.
When I returned to clinic the following week, I got some rotten news. One of my patients, a 63-year-old man with leukemia, had relapsed after having been in remission for two years.
“O.K., so what’s next?” he asked.
Like most physicians, Sekeres’s instinct is not to play god. He wants his patients to have as much information as possible so they can make informed decisions about their own health. But sometimes there’s not enough known to fully inform. Other times, a patient (who may also be a doctor or nurse) can know too much for their own good. No matter how much you know or don’t know, there may come a time when a patient has to trust someone who may know more. Sometimes that makes providers like Sekeres uncomfortable. But that comes with the territory.
“If this was your child, what would you do?” I’m always flattered to be asked that question by a parent concerned about their own child’s problem. I try to make sure my response is informed enough and honest enough to gain their trust. If I can’t earn that trust (or at least do my best and try), then I’m in the wrong business.
Read “Trusting The Doctor” by Mikkael Sekeres here.