I haven’t earned it yet. However, there is a large bouquet of colorful flowers on my table. It is beautiful. But that’s only for tomorrow. She is scheduled for euthanasia tomorrow.
“Usually my mother always wanted to keep control and arrange everything down to the smallest detail,” says her daughter. “She really wanted to give it to you herself. Very nice, and at the same time uncomfortable, receiving thanks for something that still needs to be done.” I feel a kind of pressure: It has to work tomorrow. I can’t go back anymore. It’s not what I plan to do, but still. I can’t fail.
Patients regularly bring something with them to the consultation hour. A piece of chocolate, a box of cookies, or something else delicious for your coffee. Sometimes there is a connection to something that happened. I remember the big boxes of pies in the neurology department as a thank you for the care given through the dying process. They called it “coffee table pie.” Often there is no immediate cause at all. I am offered homemade artworks, paintings and drawings, but also clumsy things: too-small knitted slippers, pink lace dresses for my teenage daughters, something edible that has expired.
After the summer, patients arrive who have brought with them something from their holiday address, often their country of origin: a piece of jewelry, a bag, or a painted bowl. Even a pencil case with my name on it. It moves me that people think of their doctor on vacation and then also bring something personal with them. It’s nice and appreciative of my work. At the same time it creates pressure. Because will I be able to maintain this appreciation? Are there expectations associated with it? Can I and DARE I decline a referral if they have just given me something nice? Do I still dare to start a discussion? I don’t want to refuse the gift either. It seems like an insult to the giver, especially if it has your name engraved on it. Moreover, these are not disproportionately large gifts and I should refuse them anyway. I just want to accept them with gratitude and cherish their satisfaction.
There’s this beautiful bouquet of flowers on the table in front of me. It was given out of gratitude and trust. Trust me and trust that everything will work out. Now make it happen.
More from Anneke Balussen
“Coffee buff. Twitter fanatic. Tv practitioner. Social media advocate. Pop culture ninja.”