Friday, June 18, 2010
When Physicians Cry
I knew it would happen eventually. In the AA community, there is so much empathy and compassion for one another, that there is always support to be found in the rooms. A few weeks ago, I got into a situation, quite without warning, when I was suddenly confronted with the request to "chair" a Saturday morning meeting. Not a big deal, unless your whole focus is on wrestling the myriad, somewhat conflicting emotions and fears regarding disclosure of an illness that many regard to be one of the most horrifying diagnoses around. In my case, I was settling in to a nice seat in the warmth of an AA meeting, when a dear friend, who had no knowledge of my diagnosis of early onset ALZ, asked me to "chair" the meeting. I could have said no, but it would have been awkward. I knew in my heart that I had to disclose, if I was to be a good friend, and a courageous example to my ALZ affected comrades. So I went for it. Disclosure is actually almost always recommended, if you value your sanity. Holding secrets twists the soul and isolates the sufferer. And being a card carrying member of the dementia clan, I figured I owed it to my support group and the ethic of "your only as sick as your secrets." So I went for it, trying to add a bit of levity, and making room for compassion among my friends in the room. Of course it was the right thing to do, and it gave me an unburdening, and a clearing of the air. The most difficult part was the reaction of a dear friend, a physician, himself, who was taken aback and visibly upset at this information. It is hard to watch the healer confront his helplessness. But that is what compassionate people do. They feel. They love. They share and help and add humor to the worst of it all, in spite of it all. I am blessed to be in the company of the loving, and I know that my distraught physician friend will join me in the levity and the humor that heals where no mere salve will do. We know but a little. Love is.
Posted by Chuck Donofrio at 1:27 PM