Being in constant communication with patients

Being in constant communication with patients… I want to talk about a 20 year old male patient of mine who with his slim tall figure, his respectful, slightly bent forward posture, his light-coloured bright shiny eyes, and his smile which never left him, was really a very likeable person. Distress, anxiety, apprehension, obsessions were his indispensables. And I of course…

He had found me on the internet. He was a typical case of obsessive compulsive disorder. But he was a very different person. He was frank. He was decisive to the extent you would not expect from an obsessive. After ‘likeable’ the second word to describe him was ‘consistent’. Our relationship was actually a rugged one. He used to disappear for certain periods of time and then turn up again with his majestic anxiety, putting me into a fluster. Just when I thought we are arriving at the end of the road he used to submerge himself in silence. And every now and then, just to show me that he is ok he communicated with me. It was almost as if he toyed with me with a reward-punishment mechanism. He was very intellectual. For example, even if you are a doctor, entering into competition with him on matters of psychiatry would be walking into a trap! To say it plainly, you would be put into checkmate. It would not be exaggerated to say that there was no article on the internet that he had not read… He was constantly struggling with all kinds of obsessions like hygiene, the need to control, and religious and sexual fixations. If one disappeared another appeared. The family of this young man was just as well-mannered and polite as he himself. The actual reason why I am talking about this patient is because he destroyed a dogma and a cast. This story shows us that there is no harm in keeping communication channels with patients constantly open… In this way you get to know your patient well, and keep interest and curiosity alive. There is only one drawback: the telephone calls at any time, convenient or inconvenient. But it does not matter! Occasions where one can’t control oneself are very rare. A state of constant communication provides an advantage which is worth this risk… Returning to the story of the young man, we see that at present he is very well. His sense of humour has everyone in fits of laughter. I mentioned sense of humour; in my obsessive patients I see a direct link between their sense of humour and their level of health. So we continue working with joy and laughter and sometimes with sadness. And with these words I would like to end this article.

Prof. Dr. Kemal Arıkan