My colleague told me a great story today from her years of experience.
An 80 year old spunky female patient of hers had made a sudden appointment to see her. When Dr. C entered the room, this kind old lady let her know she had taken 3 different buses to get to her appointment. “And why have you come to see me today?” Dr. C asked.
“I came to tell you good bye.” Dr. C’s brow furrowed, and she waited in silence for more of the story. “I just know I’m going to die soon. I don’t feel sick, or have any pain…I just know it’s coming. I’ve pressed my husband’s nicest suit that I want him to wear for the funeral, and I’ve written him a note of the order of service, and now I’ve come to see you.”
Dr. C still thought there must be something else to this, and dug deeper into medical symptoms. She finally got this elder lady to say that perhaps her back was hurting a little more than usual. In Dr. C’s adeptness she asked another question, “I have a feeling the pain you are feeling is your heart, do you want me to do anything about it?”
To this the patient, well known to Dr. C over the years, replied with a knowing twinkle in her eyes, “No. I know it’s almost time, Dr. C ,I just wanted to come all this way to tell you goodbye, not for you to do anything”
So, honoring her wishes Dr. C said goodbye, but added, “I’m not going to let you take those 3 buses home!” Dr. C stepped out and arranged for her medical assistant to drive the patient home – she helped her into the car, cane and all, and hugged goodbye.
The old woman of course died, right in the medical assistant’s car on that drive home. Not exactly what the med assistant bargained for in volunteering for the lift home (and as you can guess a little traumatic).
I had to smile at this story, sometimes you just KNOW it’s time!