Ok - so I have several blind spots. By "blind spots" I mean things that I just don't get regardless of how clear they might be to others But lets face it. I'm not alone. As a profession, doctors have one big one and it revolves around understanding the emotions of parents who care for special needs children.
I have talked to multiple parents who feel as I do. Parents will tell you that all too often, the medical authorities are so busy staying on task and staying out of a lawsuit that they often forget who they are even talking to!
When a doctor suggested we see a specialist to check out some issues with our child , the doctor, whom I affectionately call "Dr. Death," gave us a shopping list of things that could possibly be wrong with our son. It buckled our knees. There we stood: overwhelmed and dazed - and all he could do was tell us we should undergo additional tests. It was cold and heartless. Hey Doc, did you know you just told me my perfect child had problems? Did you know that all the dreams I had for my child were just blown up? Did you understand that you sent my world spinning?
I don't think many physicians understand the power of the news they bring and how deeply it affects parents.
I'm not alone. Doctor stories are everywhere and most everyone makes me cringe.
I especially don't want to hear of a doctor telling a woman to end a pregnancy immediately upon the diagnosis of a problem. How unfair is it to send a parent into a tale spin of emotions and then manipulate them based on their view of what should be done. Do they ask? Do they care what parents think and believe when it comes to matters of ethics and morality?
How can doctors say that they are compassionate if they don't even listen? There is a new book and it's running up the bestseller list. It's entitled, "How Doctors Think." According to it's author, they very often do not. For example, studies show that the average doctor will interrupt his or her patient after only 18 seconds. They draw quick conclusions and rarely hear the patient out.
I want to tell doctors to back off. If you care for the person you are treating, please show it by closing your mouth and listening. You don't always have to unload all the options on the patient the moment you tell them what you believe is going on.
To be fair, I know that the doctor is often in a losing situation. And bad news is never an easy thing to deliver. But they shouldn't always try and solve every problem in five minutes or less.
Give parents a few minutes, or more - to digest the information and at least wait for their first question. I can guarantee that they will ask your opinion, but please before you tell someone to end a life, find out how they feel about the life you think they should take.