Not How But Why

Don’t tell me how I should take this medicine doctor. Tell me why I should take it. How to take it is confusing. Why I should take it is senseless. I don’t need to know how. I need to know why.

This is a common conversation. It goes on something like this.

All I seem to do now is keep appointments. There’s an appointment to my dentist. There’s an appointment to my heart doctor. There’s an appointment to my cancer doctor. There’s an appointment to my primary care doctor. I have so many appointments that I don’t have time for life. The great disappointment is I have all these appointments and I am not getting any better.

First of all, cheap beer is cheaper than all these medicines and I feel better immediately with beer. No lab studies needed.

I wake up and select from a variety of pill bottles to decide which pill should be taken at which time. Should I eat first or drink some water? Should the blue pill be taken with a fatty meal or can it be taken on an empty stomach. Should the red one be taken with orange juice? And what about this injection? Can I put it in my arm muscles or on my abdomen? Should I apply the ointment to my face, or lower leg? Does this brace go on my ankle or knee? When is my next appointment?

I can see the frustration and though I don’t have the personal experience to understand, I do know this can be depressing. If life is nothing but trying to stay alive it becomes meaningless. It gets even worse when they add the social dynamics of personal and family grief.

It sounds like this.

I live alone, except for my dogs and cats. My husband left me for another woman and my daughter can’t decide which gender she is this month. There was a shooting in my hallway and they didn’t discover the child’s body for 3 days. What a stench. Why should I stop drinking, snorting and shooting? What else is there?

I must help my patients find a meaning and purpose for life. The how means nothing if the why is not worth it. The clinical values of A1c, INR, CD4 count or GFR is of no personal value without purpose.

Dear doctor, at my next appointment help me find purpose. Don’t just tell me how I should stay alive. Tell me why I should stay alive.

John 16:33 King James Version (KJV)
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.