About doctors on TEDx

It is a TEDx talk I'd never seen (or heard about) before, but it was totally worth watching. Why? Because what he says is important, and because I wholly agree with him.


Having been a patient that mistakes have been made on - not big ones by any means, but substantial enough to make a difference - I can understand somewhat the temptation to rant about it. Heck, I've ranted several times, to different people, about what one or another medical professional has done, and what the consequences have been.

But here's the thing: I don't expect doctors - or medical professionals as a whole - to be perfect; and from what I remember I never have either.

They're people - most of all, they're people.

As much as it sucks when mistakes happen, I think - just as Brian Goldman does - that rather than ostracizing doctors who make mistakes and admit to making them, it is important to cultivate a culture where mistakes are talked about, and learned from.

And it reminds me of a story that moved me almost to tears last year.

I learned about it in one of Radio New Zealand's broadcasts and so I won't spend my time googling to find you an article that describes the same thing - you can do it for yourself, if you wish - but it was basically about a woman that got trapped in one of the collapsed buildings during the February 22 earthquake in Christchurch in 2011.

It is known she survived the initial collapse because her husband (who'd been trying to get in touch with her) had been able to get through to her on her mobile phone. She had described to him where she was, and by climbing on top of that pile of rubble he'd been able to pinpoint to within a few metres to a spot where she was, under that rubble.

And he'd been wanting to help, trying to help, but he'd been ordered off that rubble to let the officials go through their procedures instead, and when that heap of rubble caught fire later that evening (there were several damaged gas mains there), his wife died of smoke and fire related injuries.

Last year when that incident was discussed during the court proceedings where Christchurch earthquake and the official response to it was questioned, the message he read out was not about the amount of resentment he may have for having lost his wife in such a way, or the amount of guilt he may wish the officials carry, or the amount of compensation he should be paid, but...

...about the lessons he wanted people to learn.

The grace with which he handled the situation is one of the most memorable moments of this whole rebuild experience here.

His wife shouldn't necessarily have died that day, but rather than go through motions of resentment/guilt/anger/insert-yours-here, that man went through motions of sadness and acceptance instead, and said it out loud, publicly, that rescue workers made mistakes that day, but as much as it hurt him to have lost his wife in such a way, he wanted them to learn of what should've been done differently - to let others who may be in that situation in the future learn differently - and he spoke to them with kindness and forgiveness.

And it's the same sort of an emotion I am getting from Brian Goldman's TEDx talk here.

I think I have learned to feel sadness and forgiveness towards others because I have learned to feel forgiveness towards myself. It's taken a while, but it has allowed me a sense of... freedom to have learnt to let go, and let be, both for the mistakes I have done and for the mistakes others have done, because in the end what matters is that I try to do good, and that they - whoever those "they" are - try to do good, too.

Even towards The Dog, when she yet again gets in the way with her doggie manners =).
And some relatives who make for such "memorable" conversations over Skype =).
And The Kid when he is having a grizzly morning and doesn't want to dress nor eat nor drink nor play =).
Or anyone else, really.

It's work in progress, but it works. For me.

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