Do doctors waste their chance?
When my friend was dying, and told me what I should say to people at a funeral speech, she said that the first thing was to "don't forget" that she had "loved her doctors" who had "saved her life".
I think she was grateful.
The way I understand it, a mundane explanation of what she said was that, it the fact that they gave her medical care that made her life livable.
Different doctors cared for (helped) her in different ways:
- Her surgeon for example was confident, self-confident: and that gave her some confidence.
- Another surgeon (who was inserting a stent under local anaesthetic) talked with her (e.g. about her and about what he was doing), became a friend, while he was working.
- Her family doctor (general practitioner) gave her prescriptions but also good health-related advice, and said some psychological things like "your family love you" when that might have been helpful.
(None of the above is Buddhist advice.)
Instead of dwelling on the true nature of the body right in front of their eyes, Doctors have become PROBLEM SOLVERS.
Maybe you could do both: i.e. understand the body (and other aspects of a human being's nature) AND solve problems.
I think that's more or less what the Right Livelihood of being a doctor may consist of.
Doctors see birth, aging, sickness and death on a daily basis but have somehow become deaf, dumb and blind to all that they see and hear inside a ward.
"Deaf, dumb and blind" sounds quite dysfunctional. I don't understand it (what you're saying) so I can't try to answer this sentence.
It is all just an addition subtraction formula where drugs/treatment are prescribed for easing a patient's suffering, while maybe giving a patient reassurance if needed.
Even ignoring that there are people in the equation, I suspect that a medical doctor's job may be much more complicated than "an addition subtraction formula":
- Beware that symptoms presented may have diverse etiologies
- Examine for related symptoms to help make a differential diagnosis
- The right amount
- Try something else if the first prescription doesn't work
- Do it safely ("the dose makes the poison", avoid iatrogenic and nosocomial problems)
- Do it bravely (medicine may be poison but disease may be worse than the treatment)
- Don't just fix a bullet wound, try to offer a treatment plan for the lifestyle which caused it
How can a medical student or a doctor get across this barrier, and not be deconditioned to being blind to the truth, and how can he/she be strong and balanced enough mentally to cope up with the evergrowing needs/obligations that a doctor is cursed with?
It might help (you and others) to remember that you're not alone.
Maybe you'll hand over to a specialist: a surgeon, an otolaryngologist, a psychiatrist, an oncologist, or any number of other specialties.
They in turn may hand their/your patient back to the GP / family doctor, for ongoing care.
In the hospital, maybe part of your job is to support the nurses: if they spend more time with the patient than you do, then maybe they know the patient better; nevertheless they (the nurses and the patient) need your technical support (e.g. for monitoring the effect of prescriptions) and that's what you can do for them.
As for spiritual advice and comfort, you might be able to offer that as a friend, a fellow human being, a fellow Buddhist. Another option is to hope to delegate that too to another specialist: one of the patient's friend, family, or their teacher, or perhaps a chaplain, monk, or nun who will visit people in the hospital.
It might also be helpful to review what Right Speech is: timely, kind, and so on. As a doctor you may know things (about cause and prognosis) which a patient doesn't. Sharing that knowledge may help the patient to live with/within reality instead of fear (of the unknown) and ignorance.
If you're looking for Buddhist advice about dying, there's a lot of that advice about; some I found include for example:
I think we shouldn't be in a hurry to reach the point of dying, though.