I have Google Alerts set up for “lung transplant”, “cystic fibrosis”, and “Steve Ferkau” (yes, vanity is alive…) From time to time I stumble across news articles or blog postings that strike a chord (or sometimes strike a nerve!) I’ve stumbled across things that struck a few chords in this special woman’s blog.
Her name is Tiffany and, like me, she has cystic fibrosis and has received beautiful new lungs. Actually, she has received them twice. She describes herself as a “professional patient” and I’ve seen some pretty neat perspectives in her postings.
She gave a talk to medical students – the topic was Healing vs Curing Her entire talk is worthwhile reading – here are a few excerpts I particularly liked:
There is a difference between healing and curing. I found out that healing was my job and medicating was your job.
Curing is when the body has rid itself of illness and disease. It is a physical state of wellness. Curing is modern medicine’s responsibility and can be done with or without the assistance of the patient.
Healing can be done no matter what the outcome of the illness- healing is achieved from within and may still have a result of physical death. Healing is an emotional/spiritual state of wellness. This is the patient’s responsibility and can be done with or without assistance from doctors, nurses etc.
It became my job to strengthen myself from within, despite the pain I was enduring. Happiness comes from within, suffering comes from within.
I think there is a great deal of insight in this idea that so many can benefit from on both sides of the hospital bed. And, I like her take on success, failure, and positive mental attitudes toward the end of her talk:
Finally, I can not go without mentioning, as this is very close to my heart, the dangers of confusing healing with curing and therefore judging a patient’s dedication to getting well by the physical results. In some of our “power of positive thinking” perspectives, there is a tendency to put responsibility on a patient for their success or failure, success being living and death being failure. I can assure you; this is a responsibility too awesome to bear.
Death is not a failure and it is most often not a choice. I have known many that have died before me that were not in any way lacking a positive attitude or a will to fight. I could never call myself a survivor because that would make them a failure. They were anything but.
If it were not for my second transplant, I would have died. In the same way, my spirit was so strong, I could never call myself a failure and would have been crushed if someone had. Please be careful when you make assumptions about who is “working hard” and who is not. Appearances are not always what they seem.
The first experience I had reading “sick girl speaks” was a truly moving letter to her transplant coordinator, Vicky. After deciding there was no point in pursuing a second transplant, Vicky apparently changed Tiffany’s mind and helped her get more time, let her find love, and look forward to another tomorrow.
It’s a beautiful letter that details an incredible journey. My favorite paragraph is at the end:
Vicky, all that I am able to offer you is the hope and prayer that God will see all that you have done and reward you beyond all expectation. May you be blessed a thousand fold in this life and any that follow. May all the good you have done be done to you. May all the compassion you have shown be given to you when you need it most. My passionate prayer is that your own joy will be proportional to the love you have given so many patients. I offer this prayer with sincerity and humility.
But you really need to find out how it got to that paragraph…
Tiffany's blog is at https://sickgirlspeaks.blogspot.com/