They did not teach me this in medical school, but sometimes people get very angry with their doctor. Patients and their families can be downright mean. Sometimes it is to my face, as with the man who demanded an MRI for the knee he had twisted 2 days earlier who pointed his finger at me and said. “I paid for this insurance and if you don’t order an MRI I will go somewhere else!” Most often it is less direct, as with the letter earlier this year in which I was told that I didn’t listen and talked down to my patients and in some of the reviews posted by disgruntled patients online. Mean remarks hurt, and the pain lingers.
Fortunately mean remarks and actions are uncommon and are far outnumbered by words and acts of kindness. When I think of patients being kind two people quickly come to mind.
Winnie passed away last year and was one of my favorite patients. She lived well into her 80’s. One year at Christmas she brought in homemade shortbread as a gift. It was delicious and I told her so. I even asked for the recipe for my wife. Once Winnie knew I liked her shortbread she made a point to brink in a batch with every office visit. She didn’t need to do it and it certainly wasn’t needed or expected. She did it because she was a loving and kind person. She knew I enjoyed it and she was not going to pass up the opportunity to make someone else happy.
Chuck has been a patient for years. He is an expert in personal security, working to protect "high value clients." He has extensive training in keeping important people safe. On one visit we discussed his job and how to protect yourself. I told him that I was taking steps at home to increase the safety of my family. At his follow up visit Chuck returned with multiple gifts, including a high powered flashlight and ammunition! I was taken aback. By his actions he demonstrated that he cared about me, that I was important to him.
Winnie and Chuck both demonstrated a type of kindness, the type described by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4. Paul wrote, “Love is kind.” The kindness mentions by Paul was not merely the absence of meanness or merely a kind word. The word carries with it the idea of giving something or doing something good to someone else, of acting on someone’s behalf and to their benefit. This type of kindness comes at a cost and requires effort. It also brings a blessing that endures. It is my prayer that God will work in my heart to help me love others in this way. I have a long way to go, but I am making progress. How about you?
This post is the second in a series based on the aspects of love listed in the bible in 1 Corinthians 13. Please consider sharing it with others as that would be a kind and loving thing to do! You can have the future posts delivered by email simply by clicking on the subscribe button on the page.