Friday, November 25, 2005

Tell me how long is a short time
Is it longer than 2 hours?
Or a bit less than a weekend?
Is it shorter than a year?
Is it the time it takes to not complete your business with a person?
- Tiddas, For a Short Time

This is my question of the week. As others prepare to go away, as I prepare myself, and as I pass another year marker (thanks to everyone who sent their wishes for me!). Knowing that, when I leave, life will go on, I try to see what else I should do to enable that process before I go. This is particularly relevant for my patients with HIV - how can I enable them to see their children go to school, grow up? What haven't I done that I can? What should I acknowledge that I can't?

I feel that there are many with whom my business is not complete.


Derek said...

Im not sure if I have the answers to your questions. I do believe however that you have done everything physically and exhausted yourself mentally to achieve the best possible outcome not only for your patients but for the project as well.

I think also that you have in some way changed the life for the people you have treated, but also for the people you have come across and worked with.

The notion of you thinking about these points shows the dedicated and compasionate person you are.

James W said...

Hi Mel,

Now that I'm a blogger, perhaps it's time that I learned the experience of commenting on other people's blogs. My blog (The JMW Blog) is not here at Blogspot, so you probably won't get an automatic photo of me like other commenters, but I can probably provide a link to one, let's see:
James W

Anyway, this is quite an interesting philosophical question you are asking - "How long is a short time?" And the concept of "completing your business" with a person is interesting as well. So maybe a philosphical question deserves a philosophical answer. Perhaps you never need to complete your "business" with someone (whether it is a "professional" relationship or anything else). OK, you can't promise to spend regular time every day in the future talking to them directly or thinking of them, but your relationship with someone doesn't really need to "end" just because you stop communicating with them directly. Hopefully they will continue to think back to conversations they had with you and many of them are undoubtedly highly appreciative for having learned a lot (about themselves and about life, relationships e.g. doctor-patient, health care etc.) from their experiences with you.

It sounds like you're allowing yourself to put quite a lot of pressure on yourself to be
perfect - "What haven't I done that I can?" I'm sure you've done a great job of treating all those patients. Of course it's always possible to look at yourself from a pessimistic point of view and consider that someone else in your position possibly could have done a better job, but of course someone else in your position could have done a much worse job as well. So I personally don't think it's worth worrying about too much.

I actually got into an argument recently in an online group and someone criticized me of trying to intimidate people with my sort-of intellectual philosphical arguments (I don't know if this comment would fall into that category), but somehow I don't think I need to worry about that with you. I'm just expressing my personal thoughts of the present moment, and if you wanted to get into a philosophical debate with me, I'm sure you would be perfectly capable :-)

Best wishes,

derek said...

I like your response James...

melt said...

Oh, yes, i'm certainly capable, and usually willing to join any philosophical debates around!

i'm not pressuring myself a lot - in fact one of the things i've got a lot better at this year is knowing how much is possible / sensible to try to do. however i'm aware that there are things that i should be aware of, in terms of parting from people in a way that recognises the past months and leaves the situation in a positive manner. many people here, who have little freedom to move, are used to others coming, developing relationships and then moving back to their "normal" lives. i'm doing the same, but at least i can try to leave well!

macca said...

IMHO - the only place better than a blog for philisophical debates, is a pub .. perhaps with wireless so you get the best of both worlds ;)

Cathy said...

Hey Mel,
I haven't been on line for a while, but in reading this just wanted to make a few comments.
Someone once reminded me that it's not our job to fix the world, just to love it by being who we are. I don't think the questions ever go away, but you do learn to hold them loose enough that they don't strangle you, and tight enough that you remember who you are.
And yes, take the time to finish well (from one who never takes this advice for themselves!)