We were talking today about opportunistic infections (infections you get when you’re immunocompromised, due to HIV, on steroids, or you’ve received a transplant), and specifically about the effects of anti-retroviral therapy on changing the course of disease in patients with HIV.
Our lecturer, Dr. Montoya, mentioned something that I don’t think I’ve ever heard from another lecturer: he said that during the 1980s, the staff would meet once a month to mourn the loss of their AIDS patients, and to remember them. Rarely do we ever hear mention of patients dying, and even more sparse is the admission from a doctor that their patients affected them. That we’re not robots of information and treatment. We’re people, our patients are people, and that medicine is a human interaction. It was really refreshing to know that there’s emotion involved-or at least, there should be. All too often physicians are noted for their detachment, or at least, their ability to detach-to be objective in a time of crisis or emergency. But I think if you don’t let your patients get to you-or at least some of them-you lose something key to what drives you to continue practicing to the best of your ability.