Saturday, November 08, 2008

Really Tough Stuff

Lately, I've been complaining about the residency application process on this site and elsewhere in the non-digital world. It's been nice to be on rotation and have daily reminders of why you are going through the cumbersome process. Sometimes however, giant "reset" buttons come your way. Gianter (grammar intentionally misused) then catching a DVT or sewing a laceration, and not quite like the reset weekend to help me switch from day to night shifts that I wrote about this morning.

The reset I'm referring to tonight is more important. Today I visited a blog that I had not been to in a while. It's Ben Towne's online journal.

Ben is the three year old son of one of the pastors at the church I attend. He was diagnosed with an aggressive neuroblastoma last August (2007). Ben and his family have endured ups and downs of treatment and remission, hospitalization and time at home. They have had a large body of supporters, many of whom may have never even met Ben. I count myself as one of the folks who first heard about the family's story in a pew and have followed it by periodically reading the blog.

Much of the art of medicine is related to empathy with patients and families we encounter them in the hospital or clinic. It's a gift to be able to achieve this emotional skill, and it's one that can always find a new place in the physician's toolkit. There is even more to learn from witnessing non-medical aspects of patients' experiences. Some people go into medicine because of these experiences: a grandparent who may not have received the best care, a sibling who couldn't be saved from a disease, or a friend who was paralyzed in a car accident. I was not one of these people. That's why it has been a privilege to follow along with the Towne family's trials. Their web journal also makes it easier for me to think about and pray for them.

After aggressive radiation and chemotherapy, Ben's tumors are back with a vengeance. There is little that medicine can do for him except control his pain. The family has taken him home from the hospital and will pursue comfort care for him. By any account they have a tough road ahead of them. Yet, the journal reports this week that:
Many times last night Ben told [his mom] not to worry and that he loves her.
If you are inclined to pray, meditate or reflect about Ben and his family, I am sure that the Townes would appreciate it.

1 comment:

Mike Haubrich, FCD said...

Let them know that I hope the best for him. Cute little guy and I am sure he is a sweetheart.