When doctors develop a God-like complex

When doctors develop a God-like complex

I had a consultation with a specialist earlier this week, not Hydrocephalus-related, who uttered the words “When doctors develop a God-like complex“.  These words struck me a bit and got my mind wandering.  The consultation itself was one, which left my mind reeling as now I’m facing surgery…yet again.  The thought of being in pain and recovering over a 6-week period left me feeling a bit helpless and sent my mind in a hundred different directions as I quickly tried to figure out how the logistics of family and work-life would balance out during my incapacitation/recovery.  I was worried about my husband, my children and trying to figure out ways of getting around the fact that I probably don’t have enough annual leave to cover me.  Concerns grew and grew and I lost track of our conversation…because this was an unexpected outcome.  However, this post is more about what she had said.

I liked her mannerisms, I liked the personal attention and care she extended towards me and have to admit, I took it onboard with a bit of scepticism at first.  I heard myself saying to her “Why can’t there be more doctors like you…?  To be quite honest with you, I’ve lost all faith in the medical profession“.  (I’ll admit, I went into her consultation room expecting to be let down, yet again, and walk out feeling as if I was going nowhere slowly).  She looked up briefly at me as she was scribbling some notes down and continued to talk saying how she didn’t blame me because, and I quote “I too have lost faith in the medical profession“.

In front of me sat a doctor who within the first 10 minutes of our meeting, I had formulated an opinion about her (as one does).  I respected her for her honesty and I simply lapped up the attentive care and thoroughness of her ways.  I felt a need to justify and explain though why I had said what I did.  I continued to tell her that I have Hydrocephalus and that I had consulted with doctors in the very same building who have left me feeling abandoned and anxious.  Doctors who have told me that they normally see people who are in a coma and I looked “fine” to them.  How being proactive instead of reactive was better suited to my own peace and frame of mind and how I just wanted someone to listen to me and take what I had to say seriously.

She asked me who the doctor was that I was talking about and I told her that it wasn’t one in particular but that I had seen a few since moving to New Zealand.  However, I told her about my last consult, which left me feeling as if I had no more hope and was left at the mercy of the system.  She listened attentively, smiled and said “Yes…I know the doctor of whom you speak.  Though I respect his work because he is very good at what he does, he has unfortunately developed a God-like complex too.  Sometimes we as doctors think we have the power to decide what’s best for our patients but there are many times when we fail them and act like God.  It is not our place to decide their fate and sometimes…we fail to see clearly. In the end, we will all need to answer for our actions“.

This conversation has stuck with me and probably will for a long time.  How true is it though that we ourselves place our faith completely in the hands of the doctors/surgeons we see?  Trusting them implicitly and believing that they have the power to heal/fix us.  I wrote before about it being a matter of trust but what do you do when you no longer have trust?  More so, what do you do when a physician you respect, utters the words “I myself have lost faith in the medical profession“?

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