Archive for July, 2007

rainbow over castle, originally uploaded by bobsee.

What’s the significance of a rainbow? Is there a pot of gold at the end of it? In this case it looks like the pot of gold must be in Stirling Castle!
The rainbow is a hopeful symbol isn’t it? This beautiful one which I saw on wednesday made me think of the two states I often see as a doctor – hopelessness and hopefulness.
Some doctors tell people how long they’ve got to live. Usually these are people with cancer. But these prognoses are just based on statistics. For this individual who sits with me today I have no way of telling how they’re life will progress let alone of telling when they’re going to die. More than once I’ve told patients that having a disease doesn’t give you knowledge of when you’re going to die.
Pretty much in every condition a doctor will see someone who gets worse, someone who doesn’t get better and someone who does. The proportions of people in each of these categories changes with different diseases. But there are ALWAYS people who defy expectations. Look at Stephen Hawking. He has Motor Neurone Disease and most people with this disease die within a couple of years of diagnosis. Stephen Hawking has had this disease over 40 years now.
Patients with any disease have a choice about how to live their lives. They can choose to give up in despair, or they can choose to hope. A doctor’s job includes helping patients to choose hope – realistic hope, not crazy hope!

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