In general, I don’t think most people truly believe that one person can make a real difference in the world. I do. Why? Because one person changed my life.
When you have a chronic illness, you see a lot of doctors. Most of those doctors will dismiss you, some will believe you, but very few will actively try to help you. I’ve been lucky enough to have two doctors in the last category.
The first doctor who made a difference was my ENT (ears, nose, and throat) doctor. This doctor had no reason to really put much time or attention into my case, but he did, because he realized I needed someone to care about me. The first year after my surgery was very difficult because I couldn’t get anyone to believe that I was in an unprecedented amount of pain. (Click here for my full story.) My surgeon just kept saying, “Well, you shouldn’t be in pain”, even though I kept saying, “Well, I am!” Since the pain from jaw surgery started to spread all over my face, we saw my ENT just in case my sudden onset of pain was somehow completely unrelated to the reconstructive jaw surgery I had just had.
Since no else believed me, my ENT did everything he could to try and fix the pain from his end. He did multiple procedures just so we could go back to my surgeon and say there is absolutely nothing else the ENT can do, so it is NOT an ears, nose, or throat problem. After my ENT declared he had done everything he could, you would think he would be done with me, right? Fortunately for me, wrong.
My ENT stayed in touch with me, making extra calls when needed to find out about a doctor or a treatment I was getting. When we finally decided to do another jaw surgery five years later, we were considering going out of state to a surgeon that had been recommended to us. My ENT called the out of state office, did substantial research, and then called us. He informed us that the person who had recommended him had a deal with that surgeon. They both recommended patients to each other so they each could get more business. He then told and emailed us extensive research he had done showing there were highly qualified surgeon’s in-state, even highlighting the ones he thought were best and had the best patient reviews!
This doctor really went beyond the call of duty here. He wasn’t getting paid for the time it took for him to do this research. He did it because he cared, because he knew I needed someone who cared enough and had the resources to find out what was best for me. He saved me an incredible amount of time, money, effort, and pain by doing what he did. This wasn’t his job, it wasn’t even his field! But he made sure someone cared.
The second doctor is my pain management doctor. He’s the kind of doctor that will spend half an hour giving you a pep talk before ever getting to the medical part of your visit, just so you can leave knowing someone believes in you. He comes in every month with inspirational quotes, a great attitude, and most importantly, with only you on his mind. He truly cares about me. I know this not only because he’s told me, but because he’s shown me. Month after month, he comes in and asks me about what’s going on in my life, and actually listens to the answer.
My goal in life is to be a fantastic pediatric surgeon who helps young people who are struggling like I have. My pain management doctor is my biggest supporter in that endeavor. I’m actually attending his Alma Mater. He’s given me all sorts of advice over the years to help me get in to medical school that I fully intend on utilizing. There is no way I could ever repay him for the time and attention he has given me. He’s turned tiring monthly doctor visits into an enjoyable, uplifting experience. I don’t think many people can say that.
It’s also important to note that my pain management doctor is also excellent in his medical care. He listens to how I feel about and how I react to medicine and adjusts accordingly. He is always willing to try something new, and understands when I don’t want to. But he also doesn’t just rely on the medication. He’s suggested and supported me trying out all different kinds of treatment from hypnotherapy to massage therapy. None of them have helped, but I appreciate his suggestions and support.
I keep in touch with both of these doctors to this day. My pain management because unfortunately I still have to see him monthly, and my ENT because I write him periodical cards letting him know how I’m doing, and even sent him my college graduation announcement. I don’t think either of these doctors can ever fully comprehend what an amazing difference they’ve made in my life. These doctors are the people who have inspired me to make a difference of my own by becoming a pediatric surgeon. Someday, I will make a difference in the life a child who is struggling just like I have. Someday, I want to be that one doctor who cared for someone else. We need more of them out there.
To whoever is reading this, you don’t have to be a doctor to make a difference in someone’s life. There are a million different ways to become that somebody for a sick or struggling person. I just want you to do something. Whether that something is donating $1 to a favorite charity, feeding the homeless, becoming a teacher, fighting for civil rights, becoming an advocate, becoming a doctor, or a million and one other things. Just do something. Help someone. There is not a person alive who doesn’t need at least one person to go the extra mile for them. Please become that person for someone else.
Here is a link to a donation page for the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA). There are tens of millions of people suffering from diseases like mine (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome), and there are no cures and very little known about these diseases in general. If everyone donated $1 today, we would have the means to fundamentally change the landscape of autoimmune disease knowledge and understanding. Please consider donating.
Who has been that one person who truly cared for you? Let me know with a comment below!
P.S. Gotta show some love to Stokpic for their completely FREE photographs!