Last time, I wrote about how healing is unique and individual, and how therapies that purists may claim have no basis in science may nevertheless be effective in some people. Since my last post, I have seen that thesis reinforced in spades, but I will save that story for another day.
This morning, for the first time in three weeks, my right hand is wound-free. A mishap involving the locking mechanism on my razor handle resulted in multiple scrapes and lacerations to my fingers which have at last fully healed, leaving only minor scars that will likely fade and be nearly invisible in a few more weeks. None of these wounds was serious; they hurt a lot, because fingers have lots of nerve endings, and they bled profusely, because fingers are well-perfused, but I knew from the time of injury that there was no cause for serious concern. This was a minor problem.
And then I tried to play my guitar, something that I enjoy doing, and do nearly every day. It was very painful, and I couldn’t play at all for several days. I missed it terribly, and the inability to play definitely affected my sense of well-being.
So what? So, doctors who care for patients, and especially when caring for patients with what the learned physician knows is a minor problem, would do well to understand just who it is who has the minor problem. If the “minor” problem interferes with the patient’s lifestyle in a significant way, it becomes more than a minor ailment. It can cause significant suffering that the physician would do well to explore. Doing so will make the patient feel better, and isn’t that the point? Just as the response to therapy is individualized, so too is the response to illness or injury. It’s all part of being human, which is why a connection to the humanities will help physicians be better healers.