Care is the Best Medicine

practitionersBack in the days when penicillin and sophisticated technology were not yet discovered, how old western doctors cure their patients? Many believe they were armed with the Big C, or CARE. They stood by the bedside of their dying patients, patting their hands, offering their support. Their knowledge of curing diseases may have been very limited, but their hearts were big and caring.

Care is the best medicine which cannot be merely substituted with powerful drugs or the latest hi-tech invention. Caring may not produce quantifiable results that can be seen and scrutinized in the laboratory, but its results should not be underestimated.

An endangered patient who is finally equipped yet has no one who sincerely cares for him, may not be able to heal as fast as a person who is battling an infectious disease and has the loving support of his family.

Many people recuperate very fast because of their caring relationships. Caring for someone, infuse in them the understanding that you really want the best for them, opens wide the road to recovery. This is also very true in practical life. No matter how stubborn and hard a person may be his wall of antagonism and cynicism would melt down when he realizes your sincere desire for his well-being.

Listening is vital. If the patient is assured that when he talks someone is interested enough to listen and help him, he feels very fortunate and full of hope. If the doctors really cares and knows how to listen, then he gets to learn about the values of his patient. Do his patients want to be hooked up onto so many machines, holding on to the fortress of the body even if it’s falling apart? Or does he want to preserve his dignity and let just nature takes its course? Otherwise, the doctor would be imposing his own value system on the patient, which is preserving life at all cost.

Each person is part of mosaic. Each has his own special way of connecting with himself, his family, and his community. The art of understanding the whole person and not just the physiology process involve in curing the disease is more important. This integral appreciation of the person makes the doctor deal with the spirit, an essential part of body-mind medicine.

There are people who may have been diagnosed for terminal illness like cancer and are given, to say, six months to live. Yet, since some of them whose spirits are whole and are determine to live strangely so live longer than expected. Some who are low in spirit, bereft of love and care in the family, suffer from depression and die in a couple of months. Still, some old people like the Native American Indians can die at their own will with no apparent physiological reason.

In body-mind medicine, suggestion and belief system have a very strong bearing just like the placebo effect, which demonstrate the impact of belief on the physical body. When a person firmly believes that he could get better according to the doctor does or gives him, and then his body responds accordingly. But what actually happens is that his endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin doing the job as a result of the healing and mind act.

Some may think that they can skip the part of caring for someone’s pain and just administer placebos. In the sense, this is being dishonest to the patient and would not help anyone who should be confronting the problem, which is dealing with the real pain. Perhaps pain is symptomatic of the person asking for your time or attention.

Dr. Ron Anderson, chair and CEO of Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas, which is rated among the 25 best hospitals in the US, has used the principles of body-mind medicine in his work. Dr. Anderson co-authored Medical Apartheid – An American Perspective. He has this to say about hospital care; “It’s like preventive medicine if I deal with the patient’s problems and anxieties and concern ahead of time; I actually made the therapy plan and the outcome better for both of us. We beat out our medical students and our

House staff officers of compassion and empathy and a lot staff willingness to understand the person. They are told to understand the disease and that’s what they’ve tested on.

“Traditionally, hospitals have been organized for doctors, for auxiliaries, for insurance companies – everybody but the patient. Hospitals have taken in the total institution format. The total institution is like a concentration camp or a jail or even a place created to service a need, but that is overwhelmed with volume, stress, strain, and people not dealing with their own feelings. Public school systems may be the same way. Hospitals should be places created for the service of the patients. We ought to deliver care as best as we can within a very clear value system. Doctors should be customers of a hospital, but not the only customers.

“When people get to the wards and see a harried faculty member of a senior house staff, they may develop the attitude that the patient is the enemy. One of the reasons that many physically don’t want to do primary care in this country is that they’re trained in hospitals where they don’t understand the patients as that patient lives in a family and a community. They don’t have any continuity with the patient over time.

“Any physician who takes care of patients for 10 or 15 years cherishes that relationship. Medical students don’t see that. They just see an intensive care unit with the technology. It’s easier to write a prescription instead of stooping to talk to the patient. One of the things I tell medical students is that writing a prescription is not the end of the social contact with the patients. They need you to visit them, particularly the elderly person. Somehow that offends the house staff, who says, ‘She just wants social contact. What’s wrong with that if it’s healing’?”

Dr. Ron Anderson has hit the nail on its head with his perspective on effective healing environment. His perspective in medicine is nothing neither new nor common. A vital key to the healing process of a person is care which anyone has a heart could give. Care enhances the power of medicine, medical technology, and doctors’ guidance. Care could help the diseased not to be deceased easily.