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9th December 2008


I don’t hug my patients.

I shake hands, hold hands, touch shoulders, caress knees, hand over kleenex. But I rarely hug, which is unusual for me, as I love to hug. I swear, I have “HUG ME” tattooed across my forehead, which is especially discerned by all the boys that I wish to date. One hug from me, and I’ve suddenly become the sister. But it is a level of intimacy that I just don’t cross with patients, just as I never call them by their first names either.

Today, there was a patient on my clinic schedule who I had been dreading to see. A few months ago, I gave her a diagnosis that is one of those nebulous, “is it really real” diseases, a diagnosis that requires more emotional and psychiatric rather than neurologic treatment. She was very unhappy at that time, but agreed to the treatment plan that my attending and I outlined. I hadn’t hear anything more from her since then. When I saw her on my schedule, I braced myself for a very long clinic with lots of counselling and tears.

You can imagine my surprise and delight when I walked in the room and met a transformation. She had followed up on the treatment plan, gotten the assistance and help that she needed and she had not had any further symptoms since she saw me. She was virtually a new woman, with a smile that lit her face and I could not keep the same from my face.

When she left, she asked if she could hug me. We hugged tightly before she left.

I felt healed by the encouner, a little pessimism washed away. It was a good day.

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