Friday 23 March 2012

Compare and contrast

No one likes those "Compare and contrast" essay questions in literature classes.  Fortunately that's not what this post is about.  This is about two very different patients with two very different outlooks on life.

The patient I just finished with is a 60 year old woman with chronic pelvic and back pain.  Instead of seeing a pain specialist, her brilliant plan was to commit suicide by slashing her wrists.  That technique just doesn't work, especially when all the lacerations are barely through the skin.  She still managed to lacerate both her forearms to the tune of about 60 cm.  She just wanted the pain to stop...but she never thought to try pain medicine.  She tried to take the easy way out.  She told me that she just didn't want to wake up tomorrow.  I told her that I was very sorry, but that she would most assuredly wake up tomorrow in our psychiatry ward.

Compare that to the patient I saw just prior, a 40-ish year old Middle East war veteran who stepped on a landmine a few years ago and lost his leg below the knee, his testicles, his penis, and half of his abdominal wall.  After going through over 40 operations (with several more still to go to reconstruct his penis) and years of rehabilitation, he was back on his feet and back on his motorcycle living life to the fullest until a car pulled out in front of him this afternoon.  Fortunately he only suffered a broken elbow.  He didn't blame anyone, and he wasn't angry at the world for his injuries.  He clearly has 9 lives, and he's used up at least two of them.

I do feel sorry for the first woman.  Obviously she has endured years of pain, but then again, so has the second guy.  The difference in how they view life is startling, though.  He's lost his manhood but not his positive outlook.  I just wish more people could be like him.  Maybe he should become her therapist.


  1. It's really hard to be positive like that when you are in pain all day, everyday though, but I do agree that being positive and looking at the good side of things does help!

  2. The veteran is awesome, but I feel terrible for the elderly lady as well :(

    Maybe being in pain wasn't the sole reason she decided to try that, perhaps her husband has long been gone, her children moved away, her friends passed on as well, and she felt she had nothing to live for.

    I am too sensitive, damn it!

  3. It's surprisingly difficult to get proper treatment for chronic pain. More often than not, people assume you're a drug seeker, especially when the pain never goes away.


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