I talked to the son of a patient today as a futile – knowingly futile – exercise. I tried to convince him that the patient would be ready for discharge soon and that they would have to start thinking about the end of their stay. He reacted as well as the patient did.
How can you think that’s a good idea? Do you know what she’s been through? She’s been to the hospital so many times recently! She goes, she comes back the next day? Why don’t you make sure you solved her problems for once?
But really , the concerns of both came down to: I don’t want to get sick again. How can you make sure I don’t get sick again?
And I don’t know how to tell the parent or the child that despite our best efforts, people can still get sick – from our foreseen and unforeseen mistakes, from random circumstances, from the inevitable progress of biology. It’s not that they don’t know this, but it’s not what they want to hear. It’s not something they will listen to.
There’s no way I can tell them what they want to hear. Now it’s just a matter of telling them what they need to hear.