Paranoia or Synchronicity? A Bit of Both Perhaps?

December 2nd, 2016 by elaine

All weekend, and then on Monday, I was thinking about what doctors say and what they hear their patients say.  Reading the sentence backwards is something to think about too.   Say, for example, the doctor says to the patient, This could be very serious and orders some tests be done immediately if not sooner.  The patient hears, It could be cancer.  It could be terminal,  and then, after worrying incessantly, obsessively, perhaps for days, the patient suddenly recalls that the doctor said This COULD be serious, and if she is thoughtful and somewhat logical, she may recall that implied within the words could be is another possibility: could not be, and she is temporarily greatly relieved.

If, then, at some point the patient foolishly shares her brilliant insight with the doctor, the doctor hears:  This could not BE!, and concludes the patient is in denial.

Laugh? Or cry?

On Monday afternoon I received an email from Dr. Danielle Ofri who was excited to tell me about her upcoming book, What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear.


I had met Dr. Ofri at a noon-time program at McGill University where she was the guest speaker. The department that sponsored  these lunch-time talks is devoted to whole person care , so her topic would have been about bringing the humanity back to the science of medicine, being human and seeing the patient as human as well.  She works in a very busy clinical practice at Bellevue Hospital in New York.  It is the oldest public hospital in the United States; its patients come from every corner of the world and speak many different languages. Dr. Ofri’s recently published book, at that time, was aptly titled  Medicine in Translation: Journeys with my Patients; I had read it before I met her, thought it was excellent, and then reviewed it on my website.

We exchanged email addresses after the lunch and  said we would keep in touch. She became a frequent contributor to the New York Times op-ed page and health column, and I couldn’t help but notice how often her pieces paralleled or mirrored what I wrote and posted on my web page.   Interesting, I thought.  We sure are on the same wave length. But when she wrote about how efficiently dog health care works compared with how punishing human health care often is, an unlikely subject I had recently posted on my website, I couldn’t believe there was that much synchronicity on the planet.  I had bad thoughts, paranoia, sick……. for which, since Monday, I apologize profoundly.

I don’t know what Danielle Ofri has written in her soon to be published book, but somewhere therein, I am fairly certain, I will find some insight into why doctors are so negative about serious issues and why I am so vulnerable to joining them in that black pit, and how we can make this better for us all.

Why have I been thinking about this in the last few days?  It has happened to me several times, and perhaps to most people, that the doctor has issued these words or similar ones to me while recommending tests, supposedly to rule out the dreaded serious condition.  Or perhaps just to do the right thing.  So far, in spite of suffering near-death fear while waiting for the test results, I have been cleared of the actual killer condition itself.  Nevertheless, I do wonder if it is really necessary for the doctor to take this approach. Is there not another way?  Could we not give could be/could not be equal time?  Or anyway give could not be a somewhat prominent position, at least a mention? A positive attitude has healing properties; I know from experience.  When the black is lifted, by whatever means, I soar with energy.  The change is immediate and enormous.

Danielle, you said it so well in your email:  What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear – it’s about how doctors and patients communicate (or don”t) and the very real effects on our health.

How about an advance copy for review?  We can send the message around the world!

©Elaine A. Zimbel 2016

Posted in Book Reviews, Cabinet Privé, Eighty and then some..., Health Care, Uncategorized

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