I Choose a Better Life!

With the medical profession at the forefront of the 2008 election, it appears that some in the medical field have forgotten that we are people first, patients second. I write this letter in hopes that those who practice medicine remember this; and to those who seek medical attention will hold those responsible for providing that care to the creed that they are supposed to uphold.

Hippocratic Oath - The Creed You Must Follow

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

  • I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

  • I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

  • I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug.

  • I will not be ashamed to say "I know not," nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient's recovery.

  • I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

  • I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

  • I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

  • I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

  • If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

    Written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, and used in many medical schools today.

    An open letter to all medical practitioners:

    Dear sirs and madams:

    I would first like to take this time to tell you that from one spirit to another it was a great pleasure to meet you.

    I don’t know exactly how your medical systems work; quite honestly, you may be as confused about it as I am. Nevertheless, it is time we part ways.

    I am a firm believer that when spirits (souls, people, etc.) meet that there must be a positive exchange between them. This is the purpose of this letter.

    For my part, I leave your care with the understanding of just how dangerous diabetes can be. My entire life will now be regimented meticulously through diet, exercise, and mental well-being. You have made me woefully aware of the challenge that I must face. You see, most people are born and live without feeling that they had a choice in the matter. I too (to a degree) feel the same way. No philosophical waxing intended, but as I look back on my life, it just seems like the game I was playing had already been scripted. You see, I lived what I thought was a healthy lifestyle...limited sugar, calories, and carbs with plenty of exercise.

    However, now I get to choose a better life or death through how I live from this moment on with this challenge and I do choose a better life. I choose to fine tune my life to play this game as I see fit and you were an integral part in that. To which I am about to explain.

    Doctor, by following your creed to do no harm, in my opinion, may have altered your ability to listen to your patients. You looked upon me as one with something broken and in your desire to be “right”, you tried to fix it. This is not the meaning of your creed; you failed to listen to what I was saying about the matter.

    Had you stopped buzzing around your office checking your clock and taking calls, you would have discovered what was truly “wrong” with me. You would have understood that for 39 years of my life, I had a sense of perfection and ease about my life and health. You would have known and should have taken the time to help me understand this dis-ease that I am now dealing with instead of making a flippant diagnosis, writing me a prescription and sending me on my way with no information (except a small, non-descript pamphlet) to figure out how to navigate this journey that now I must take.

    I would like to take this treatment from you personally only because I pray that your other patients receive better care than I.

    Your quick diagnosis was that I am a type2 diabetic and all the symptoms, in your opinion, pointed you in that direction. As a medical practitioner and expert in your field, you couldn’t possibly be wrong. You see, for you to be wrong means that you violate the creed. On your wall is a plaque that memorializes your years of experience and justification of the time and money spent to be able to call yourself a doctor not a healer. And, because you wear the uniform or cloak of infallibility, you thought that you could simply diagnose and dismiss me in the manner in which you did.

    And, you were Wrong! With the world being tightly connected, the pen is mightier than the sword; which is why I chose not to name you personally in this letter.

    It is my responsibility to help you see the error of your ways, whether you heed them is of no concern to me because it is inevitably your debt to pay.

    The most efficient operation in your office is the collection of the co-pay. Your aides could care less about how I was feeling. You must realize that no matter how long you’ve been “practicing” medicine, it pales in comparison to the knowledge I have about me and how I feel. Keep in mind that just because you treat dis-ease does not necessarily gives one ease.

    Five more minutes of your time and you would have discovered that health to me means the ease with which I function mentally, physically, and spiritually. The medication you prescribed did not provide me with a healthy solution. I told you that, but you had to be "right".

    As a result of your need to be “right” and fix what you thought was broken and by not honoring the perfection in health that I sought, led me to an almost irreversible condition (5 days in an ICU) not to mention the frustration and pain my wife experienced due to your lack of care.

    In case you forgot, you treat patients and cure dis-eases. If you lack the knowledge about how to help someone don’t just take their money and mistreat them. Follow your creed, tell them where they can get the best care, the best information, so that they can get a new sense of ease and re-direct their lives accordingly. Give them a choice between a better life and death.

    By doing so, you honor that creed; otherwise you have failed the medical profession, mankind, yourself, and have failed your God-given mission here.

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