Dear Dr. Batistte,
I heard you talking about me in clinic today. You forgot to shut the door all the way. I wasn’t surprised by what I heard, really. I could tell by the look in your eyes that you didn’t like coming in my room. I guess I thought you just didn’t like your job, but now I know, you just don’t like me. I wish that didn’t bother me, but it does.
Do you understand that what you see when you enter my exam room is merely a snapshot of my life? Sure, you see a frail girl on oxygen who is angry and bitter. Do you think that is who I am? I suppose you do. What else would you think of me since that is all you know?
I am angry and bitter. I am angry that I am dying and yet I still have to come to clinic every month. You have told me that there is nothing you can do for me so why do you make me haul me and my oxygen tank all the way from my home to the hospital anyway? Is it so you can keep up with my statistics? Well, I stopped caring about my statistics months ago. I wish you would just leave me alone and let me be in peace.
Instead, I follow your orders like a sheep and show up here every month, tired and irritable. I heard you call me “difficult”. I know you have written me off as a problem patient. I would guess that you have even labeled me the biggest label of all : non-compliant. Is your perception that limited? Your compassion so shallow?
Perhaps I am a problem patient. If you’d like to call me that, I won’t dispute you. Where I have a problem is when that becomes the beginning and the end of my definition.
I am a problem patient and I am a survivor.
I am deep and I am materialistic.
I am fun and I am too serious.
I am compassionate and I am judgmental.
I am fulfilled and I am empty.
I am surrounded by loved ones and I am lonely.
I am everyone and only myself.
I am just like you and nothing like you.
I am sorry that I have made your work day a little harder, a little longer. I am trying to live with terminal illness and you are trying to get to lunch. Our agendas are so different.
You have hurt me today with your overly simplistic label of my state of mind. The problem is, your label is seen as a scientific fact. I mean, it went in my chart, didn’t it? That makes it real and concrete.
I heard you behind that crack in the door say that there was nothing you can do for me. I heard you describe how difficult I am and that makes it impossible to work with me. I wish you knew how wrong you are. We wanted different things from each other, you and I. You wanted a smile, perhaps? A warm welcome? I wanted understanding. Today, neither of us got what we wanted but it didn’t have to be that way. I wish I had never heard you behind that door.
I am angry with you. I don’t have much warmth in my heart for you. The only kind thing I can say today is that I hope you never have to face the same kind of one-dimensional assessment you have placed on me. It is true that there is little in this world that hurts me more than being so misunderstood.