Learned a particularly difficult diagnosis today. Had heard of it before, but my reading of it had never been so vivid as now, after seeing a patient with it.
Barely in her early fifties, we uncovered her diagnosis of a terminal dementing illness. Capable of making her mute or unable to understand written/spoken language within just 10 short years, her difficult diagnosis couldn't be processed easily by even the strongest of any of us.
With her clearest words she had ever spoken since the moment I met her (just a few half hours before), she whispered softly to her husband across the room when she comprehended the news. "We'll make it through this" she mouthed confidently. Not a shutter in her voice or mispoken syllable. As if she saved her very strongest cognition for comforting someone else- the one she loved most.
I was humbled by her next gesture. As she grabbed my arm, like a dear child who wants to know his parent is thanked, she stated out loud, "as long as we have people like her on board. We know I'll be okay." As if speaking to the future's generation of doctors, she was laying the responsibility of good medicine and an undeserved merit on my shoulders.