Monday, June 21, 2010
I’ve probably treated hundreds of patients and each one of them tells me their secrets. Some people tell me their secrets inadvertently and some tell me for the relief of confession. Some secrets are relatively benign and others have been carefully hidden for decades to preserve a family. Some secrets are spoken aloud and some are revealed when a patient is changed into a drab hospital gown. Some secrets hit me like a ton of bricks and it can take days to recover (if not weeks) and some just float gently away from me. There is no rhyme or reason to what I remember and what I forget. Sometimes I find myself thinking about the elderly patient who has been abused and neglected by her family for an unforgivable amount of time just as I start to think about the teenager who does not want to call his mom because he knows he was not allowed to get his tongue pierced, much less infected. At the end of the day it can be sobering to think about the countless people who have entrusted me with their secrets and how on bad days acknowledging those secrets can feel so mechanical.