Today during the night round I saw one of our patients reading a book entitled with the name of our hospital by our hospital priest. I started to leaf through the book. I found the chapter entitled Hematology. I went on to read. I found a story of a friend who was treated at our department. I read the book and the memories came. It was surprising to hear her the story from the other side – the priest met a patient that did not want to talk about faith and mostly avoided talking with him. He had his conclusions. I knew the other side. The disease had unleashed the will to live in her. I do not know many people who would fight with disease with such enthusiasm and energy and lived the moments that she still had. The story I know and the story of priest merge few months later when the loses the battle with her leukemia. It is strange to meet a friend whose only memory persists on the pages of a book.
Actually I was thinking of writing a book about patients few years ago. She was a person on which I wanted to build the main character – still it waits. I collect experiences in mean time. The experiences which are strongly moving and call for some sort of action.
I remember her fear of death. I remember once in August we sat once in a park and she would ask me about the ways she could die. She was afraid but wanted to know. To be prepared for unprepared. I read then this excellent essay by Alex Lickerman. I was strongly influenced by his thinking. I would tell this story and put some of my experiences into it. She would say that it helped her to overcome some of that fear.
If you have not read it yet. Here is the link