I am not your doctor


I am not your doctor
By Lawrence T. Cheung

January 12, 2017

Do I look like a doctor to you? Yes, I suppose so.
Glasses, wrinkle free shirt, meticulously pressed pants…and yes, that non-anxious presence.

No I am not your doctor.
I can read your blood work and count your potassium.
I can speak and understand that foreign language on your medical chart.
I attend the family-team meeting and have a role in your disposition.
But no I am not Dr. Fix-It-All.

Broken heart disease…COPD…calcification…FTT…HCC…Sqaumous Cell…Stemi…

No I am not your doctor.
I am just as helpless as you are when you are told hospice is the only option you have.
I frowned when your surgeon gave you compassion the size of a kidney stone.
I held my tears as I prayed over the cold body of yours and your family.
But no I am not Mr. Know-It-All.

Desolation…dark night…rosary…anxiety +++…”depression”…existential angst…silence…

No I am not your doctor.
I have never died before.
But I know the journey is not perfect…in fact, far from it.
Yet I know you & I are not alone.
The One is watching…watching over you and me…partners of this pilgrimage.
But no I am not Rev. Bear-It-All.

Do I look like a doctor to you? Yes I suppose I do.
Perhaps the porter is right – it was his lucky day when we ran into one another in the elevator.
Holy Luck…Soulful Presence…Indescribable Love…and yes…that human touch.

I guess I am a doctor.

This poem is written by one of the project participants, Lawrence Cheung, a spiritual health practitioner at St. Paul’s Hospital.  Much can be taken from the poem:  the spiritual health practitioner’s embeddedness in the clinical site, the variety of situations he might find himself in, the depths of human experience he enters into, and the complexity of the spiritual health practitioner’s role.  The reference to “The One is watching” and “partner” brings a transcendent frame to prayer, complementing the reference to “human touch” which underlines the relational and immanent aspects of prayer.  Most prominent is the role as mediator of healing:  “I guess I am your doctor”.  The spiritual health practitioner’s presence, prayers, and counsel are akin to the healing modalities of a physician.

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