The topic for today’s discussion is value. Not the kind of value one may think of in the terms of monetary value, but rather today we will touch on the surface of how we value ourselves as it pertains to both a patient and provider. First, I wish to address how we value ourselves from a patient perspective. It is not uncommon for a patient who has experienced a seemingly devastating illness or injury to feel that they are now less of a person or somehow less valuable than they were prior to the diagnosis.
I believe that while a diagnosis can often drastically change how we as an individual interact with the people in the world around us, it does not have to change your values or the way in which you value yourself. You are still the same person with the same individual traits that you had prior. Sure, maybe it is a fact you can no longer physically function as you once could. Does that make you any less of a person? I offer that while it may change how you do things it does not have to mean that you change who you are as a whole. Might it force you to change your occupation due to current medical or physical limitations? It can certainly cause you to reevaluate your career choice if accommodations aren’t reasonably able to be made for you to continue on in that career path. None of these things make you who you are despite societies focus on what we do as an occupation.
If you allow yourself to lose sight of the value in your own life it could be easy for you to fall into depression, anger, guilt, and even despair. If you do not properly manage these emotions, which are a perfectly normal part of the process we go through in grieving our former healthy or able-bodied selves, then you can lose sight of your values and begin to value yourself less. I’ve seen people become bitter, resentful, and downright mean to everyone around them. They can reach a point where they no longer value their life and their contribution to the world as a whole and are simply existing awaiting the end of their seemingly miserable existence.
When we flip the script to the provider side they can easily devalue themselves after a particularly challenging diagnosis given to a patient or maybe even that patient’s death. Perhaps they were finally able to achieve a diagnosis after weeks, months, or maybe even years of trying to sort out the myriad of symptoms that one of their patients may have presented with. The could feel as if they failed due to their perception that they should have figured it out sooner and potentially spared you the disease process becoming worse and advancing while the diagnostic testing and consults were performed.
Perhaps the provider feels as if despite making a diagnosis earlier they could or should have been able to spare you the horrible side effects of the treatment meant to prolong your life only to see your quality of life suffer as a result of the treatment that did little besides made you incredibly and painfully ill. Perhaps they feel as if by making the diagnosis sooner it would have made the difference between a treatable stage of the disease and a terminal one for their patient they’ve known for possibly their whole life.
The short and simple point of this is that there are two sides to everything and one must always remember that as a general rule we all face our own individual battles with valuing ourselves especially since most of us are our own worst critic. To show this doubt in our own values is generally seen as a weakness and a vulnerability. Perhaps we should show a little more understanding of what the other party in the situation is going through and treat them appropriately.
What is your take on the subject? We’d love to hear from you. Drop us a note in the comments below.