How to get over the hurt

I would like to comment on what I consider to be harm done to my partner by the words of a consultant surgeon. Last July the surgeon told my partner that he had about a year to live. He mentioned it as casually as if he was discussing the weather. I since found out from a specialist nurse it was based on statistics. We didn’t know that and thought it was personal. The effect was immediate and devastating. My partner went into a deep depression and nothing could lift it. He cancelled all his other medical appointments as he said there was no point and he wasn’t going to waste his time sitting around in hospitals. My partner just gave up. He stopped eating and a nurse said he had ‘turned his face to the wall’. He lasted 6 months. I made a complaint a month ago about the surgeon and the response that came back said the surgeon gave the prognosis in direct response to a question from the patient. He said it was not in his working practice to give out such information without a request.
I can’t believe it and feel he is still harming my partner even after death.
It is now the surgeon’s word against mine so it will be a battle. I just want him to know what he has done. It won’t bring my partner back and I am so tired. I’m still struggling over his loss and the pain is unrelenting.

Topsy, what a dreadful situation for you to be in. I can never understand how anyone should be told how long they have to live. Who know’s !!! This surgeon has no heart. Your partner obviously wasn’t strong enough to take such news.
We didn’t agree with a doctor giving a ‘death’ sentence because this is what it is as you well know now. Your partner gave up on life because of what was said to him, where, if he had been left in ignorance he might have battled on longer. It affects everyone differently. My husband would not discuss what life he could expect. He had no treatment though so we took his health in our own hands with Natural Therapy and lifestyle. He lived for another ten years and I was told a miracle had been performed as he shouldn’t have lasted ten months, this was after he had died… So I like to believe that being ignorant helped my husband.
I’m not sure what you can do next but it might be worth consulting a professional to take up your case or at least see if there is anything that can be done. Or send a letter direct telling this heartless man just what damage his action caused to both you and your partner. Perhaps in the future he could be a bit more caring. Or just let it drop so that you have a little less to struggle over.
Do take care of yourself and god bless.

Pat xx

Dear Pattidot

Thank you so much for your reply and kind words. You understand exactly how I feel. I also think it is wonderful how you took care of your husband for all those years.

You are right about it being a death sentence and once it has been said it’s there. It can’t be unsaid and the damage is done. To take hope away is so cruel and in my partner’s case caused him to give up.

You are also right about the fact that nobody knows how long a person may live. The specialist nurse involved in my partner’s care said the very same thing. She couldn’t understand why the surgeon had said what he did and she said she was so sorry.

I will have to respond as I can’t stand injustice. I might be on a hiding to nothing but at least I will have tried and I know if it had been the other way around my partner would do the same thing.

Take care and thank you again. Xx

I’m so sorry to hear that what the surgeon said had such a devastating impact on your husband, and that you have not had a good response to your complaint. It sounds from your post as though you are planning to take your complaint further, so I just wanted to suggest you try contacting your local PALS (Patient Advice and Liaison Service), if you haven’t already. They can give you support and information through the complaints process, and might hopefully make it feel a little less challenging. Find out more:

I know exactly how you feel unfortunately it is just a job and their livelihood the chance of a surgeon with empathy is few and far between after my wife passed away after coming out if surgery three days later never regaining consciousness the surgeon said that was the best way to die I should have punched him but my son stopped me

Hi Topsy. Oh yes!!! Now you have me going on that subject! I will say from the start, that the majority of health care professionals do an amazing job. My wife was well cared for during her last days, but I have come across what I can only describe as inconsiderate and hardnosed so called professionals. Empathy seems a rare commodity in some of them. Some of the remarks I have heard from these people are beyond belief. I was closely associated with doctors at one time, and I often felt like saying something when things were said to bereaved people. It would have cost me my job so I had to remain quiet. ‘Six months! she should be over that loss by now!’ Yes, I heard that said by a doctor. But it’s no use complaining because I doubt that sort of person will ever change. Like all professions, there are good and bad, but when you come up against the bad when you are going through a trauma it’s not good. Surely, the study of medicine is about helping people not upsetting them. Take care and put it down to ignorance.

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Hi topsy
Like others have said, some professionals seem to have little empathy with patients or there relatives, I to experienced this, my husband had cellulitis and the plan for him the day after admission was surgery, but I was called to hospital as his condition had worsened and he developed sepsis, the doctor took me to a room and without any preamble he said your husband only has a couple of hours left his kidneys have failed, and with that he walked out leaving me with a nurse, I still hear those words ringing in my ears, there were so many questions I wanted to ask, particularly as the day before and the day before that when he was admitted, I asked if it was sepsis as his BP was low and he was not peeing, i felt he had given me the news and that was it job done. Take care
Jan x

My wife was diagnosed with a grade 4 brain tumour five years ago. After her first operation we went back to meet the surgeon, who had been very nice with good communication skills at the first meeting. Unfortunately he’d been called away at short notice and we met with a different surgeon. A specialist nurse was present. This surgeon was blunt, brusque and to the point. To be fair he only stated life expectancy when asked. His response lacked any depth of feeling or compassion and he just said it will probably start to regrow In eight months, and that he had to go to another meeting now. We realised why the specialist nurse was there as she tried to mitigate the impact. To be fair she was very good.
When we went to meet the oncologist she had good communication skills and put us at ease. She said the median life expectancy was actually 14 months. As it happens my wife lived for over 4 years after that first operation. We are all a statistic of one.
I would say that the vast majority of people she came into contact with were excellent I terms of their care giving. The worst offenders were the consultants. It probably isn’t the most important criteria when they are recruited that they have good communication skills or even know what the word empathy means.
I remember driving home after being told she’d eight months and she said to me she was going to live forever or die in the attempt, and she certainly tried.

I remember a similar incident some years ago.
My daughter was expecting a baby and I went with her to the hospital to look after my grandson so that she went in for the scan on her own. She came out crying followed by a young female doctor. My daughter managed to tell me that the baby was dead and she was to be induced to have it naturally. To which the doctor said in a matter of fact way . “Well it’s not as if it was planned is it”. I went for her I was so annoyed. Non of my children were ‘planned’ but that didn’t mean I wanted them dead. My daughter had been delighted to be pregnant again. I couldn’t believe how cruel her comment was.

To George, Jonathan, Barbcon, YL, Pattidot and Priscilla I would just like to say thank you very much for responding to my post. It really helps to know that you all understand how I feel but of course I am so sorry to hear about your individual experiences.

Compassion and kindness is so important and I just don’t understand how some people in the medical/caring profession can be so heartless and insensitive. Xxx

Hi I have often wondered if they are trained to cope like this. Perhaps it’s just the name of the game and comes natural with the job they do.