Rafaele – Doctor

When I was studying to become a doctor, I worked for the home care service in Vindafjord in Norway during the summer. I often think back to an 80-year old lady I visited two summers in a row. She was a widow, a sheep farmer’s widow, who lived very isolated in a beautiful landscape. It took me a long time to drive there. I had to drive over meadows and tractor tracks, and I had to open and close gates. The patient had problems emptying the bladder, so I had to go there once a day to empty it. It was a bit difficult the first couple of times because being a young guy without much experience, I didn’t really know how to lighten the situation. However, she managed to make it easier by offering a piece of chocolate after I emptied the bladder. This became a ritual: we didn’t say a word to each other until I told her she was ready. She would say: “Good, now it’s time for a piece of chocolate” and then she would put on her clothes and we would go to the kitchen together, looking at the landscape and eating chocolate together. She soon learned which ones were my favorites and by the second summer she had sifted out my favorite chocolates from her mixed box. As I said before, I often think back to her. She made me understand that caregivers and patients sometimes have different focuses. For me, the goal was to treat her medical problems, but her focus was to have company at the kitchen table.