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LIFE LESSONS February 22, 2010

Posted by Dr. Jacqueline E. Campbell in Health, Wellness.
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As a holistic physician, I frequently have long talks with my patients , trying to know the whole person . It is crucial that I listen to these persons, so that there can be good therapeutic alliance . This is essential for effective healing . One of the roles of a physician is that of teacher – this is a role that I relish . In fact in another life I would want to be a kindergarten teacher. When the doctor becomes the teacher, medicine the science is transformed into medicine , the art .

We are now at the beginning of a new year , a new decade – a perfect time for reflection. As I reflect on my life I remember the lessons I have learnt. There have been many. Some have been learnt from my dear family and friends, who have cushioned me. At times I have been taught by my patients .


Some patients can ramble – to get from point A to point B, they have to go first to points S , then M before arriving at B . This can be understandably frustrating as work needs to be done. I have learnt to be patient because we all have a story to tell. We all want someone to listen to us. Sometimes this is all the medicine a sick person needs.


One day, Miss G. came for a routine “check up“. Out of no where she exclaimed “God answers prayers in three ways – yes , no , wait“ . Whoa ! I thought, this lady can read my mind, how did she know that I had been asking God why He was not answering my prayers? Since then whenever I pray, I remember what Miss G said.


This means to hold up under pain, fatigue. I frequently see many examples of endurance . Mrs. R, is a young woman with breast cancer who has undergone surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, only to have her cancer spread to her bones. She is in pain, but does not show it. Her energies are vibrant. She always greets me with a smile and asks “How are you doing today ? “


That lesson was learnt from Mr. W. He had a stroke . Overnight he became a cripple. He was confined to a wheelchair , but decided that he was not staying in that chair . After many months of painful physical rehabilitation , he is now able to walk with the aid of a walker . He is convinced that within the next three months he will be walking unaided.


Nothing puts a smile on my face like a little child bursting into my office , unannounced just to smile and greet me . I know the greeting is for me as I do not give children sweets ! . I have learnt that happiness is not directly correlated with material possessions or physical appearances. It is a state of mind.


So many times I have heard of patients been physically and emotionally abused by a family member . I remember asking a lady in her seventies why she continued to live with her husband of 50 years who had disrespected her . Her reply was simple – “I have forgiven him . Although I no longer love him, he is the father of my children, my gifts from God. You see I accept him for the blessings that he has brought me. God is going to turn him around.”


I have learnt that it is OK to give an encouraging smile , to call a patient to enquire about his/ her health , to hug a patient – although there was this one time when an 80 year old gentleman thought that the encouraging pat on his back, gave him permission to proposition me . I have learnt that it is OK to even shed a tear.


This is demonstrated on a daily basis when we see patients been accompanied to the office by loved ones . These loved ones just want to be present to show their love, support and care.

In caring for my patients and empowering them to take charge of their health, I have learnt many lessons. I have learnt to embrace truth, honesty, kindness, faith, hope , love and mercy. I have learnt to have peace of mind, strength and joy of spirit. I continue to learn. I give thanks for my patients.

DR. JACQUELINE E. CAMPBELL B.Sc. (Hons) M.Phil. (Pharmacology) M.B., B.S.

Dr. Jacqueline Elaine Campbell is a family physician whose special interests are Pharmacology, and the use of Alternative/Complementary Medicine in the treatment of diabetes and other diseases that are common in Jamaica.

She is the author of A Patient’s Guide to the Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus.




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