The questions we cannot answer! Superb article, as are all those Dr. Edwin Leap has written. (“The Questions We Can't Answer,” EMN 2016;38:16; http://bit.ly/2gURM9l.)
Over the past several years, I have read and enjoyed Dr. Leap's articles in EMN. He has mastered the art of humanity in his EM practice! When I started as an EP 38 years ago, a family practitioner gave me a piece of advice: “More than your knowledge, faith of the patient, your touch cures your patients faster.”
As Deepak Chopra said in his book Return of the Rishi, “There are more machines in terminal patients, but we need also more healing touch of family and friends.” (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company; 1991.)
I like these quotes from his article: “This is why I often tell young physicians that they should read and understand more than medicine. I favor religious faith, but they must have a philosophy of some kind.” “Perhaps the very dream that there is meaning, there is hope, is a suggestion that there is more here than meets the eye.”
This reminds me of a patient in his 80s who I saw. He complained of chest pain. He has been to our emergency department multiple times with the same complaint. He had been seen by a cardiologist and other specialists who all assured him that his heart was functioning properly and that he had no blockage.
After my evaluation of the initial ECG and enzymes, I reassured the patient that he did not have a heart attack. The patient asked me, “Am I going to die?” I looked at him with a calm face and responded, “Yes.” He asked for the reason. With my Eastern philosophy of karma, I told him the cause of the death was that we are not immortal but ephemeral. In my recollection, he understood and was reassured.
Pradip Shah, MD