Being Human in a Clinical World

Post written by Avinesh Bhar, M.D.

“You hurt me” she said. I know I did – couldn’t hide behind any excuses or ‘buts.’ She was the wife of a patient, he was dying and she had yet to come to terms with it. In over 2 weeks of engagement and conversations about prognosis, we had kept him alive on a ventilator.

On one hand I was desperately trying to remain calm and clinical, while on the other I was wrecked with guilt (and fear) watching a fellow being tethered to a machine – stranded between two worlds. Was I being a true patient advocate? Was he hurting because of my actions? I was torn between my façade as a physician and my inner human. As days passed, my human side grew more difficult to suppress and my words grew sharper. In a cowardly manner, I lobbed comments at the wife hoping to ‘get through’ to her. It didn’t work, but I wasn’t expecting it too. I did it for me.

She didn’t deserve this from me. She had remained vigil at bedside, on her own roller coaster ride of emotions; she was being human too. When she told me that I had hurt her with my words, I hung my head low and tears welled up. She had pulled back the curtains on my inner struggle. I stood in front of her, ashamed yet grateful for her strength to confront me. I apologized for my words, she forgave me and we embraced like humans.

I must learn to Love More, Fear Less – in medicine and life. Even when the fear ‘is for the right reasons.’


humbled member of the #pinksocks tribe

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