The Story of Mr. Gee: Understanding Empathy and Active Listening

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It is important not only as a health care provider, but as a person in general that we refrain from passing judgement while listening to others and instead show understanding and compassion. Showing a patient you care puts them at ease, making them comfortable to disclose personal information. This story was filled with many memorable points beginning to end, but if I had to pick one thing that really stuck with me it would be when Mr. Gee revealed “I keep the lights on while I am in bed because the ghosts come out in the dark. I keep the lights on to keep them away, so I do not sleep.” I was so surprised to learn that while many doctors believed Mr. Gee’s condition was a complicated undiagnosed medical problem it was actually caused by a fear rooted in cultural beliefs. He had done something he was ashamed of and his fatigue was from not sleeping due to a fear of ghostly visitations. This clearly depicts how problems have deeper origins then what appears on the surface. It is essential to look beyond lab values and speak to the patient to unveil the source of the complication. Another aspect of the story that stood out to me was when Mr. Gee revealed his definition of a hypertensive crisis. He explained that when he has one of his “episodes” he could feel the build up of internal pressure, claiming that it had to be “200 or more.” Little did his doctors know, Mr. Gee’s blood pressure episodes were anxiety. He was feeling chest pain and assigning it a high value, but never having it confirmed with a proper blood pressure reading. This showed why medical terminology should be avoided if there is not a clear understanding of its meaning. Once again, if his doctors sat down and talked to Mr. Gee they would have determined th... ... middle of paper ... ... say the first thing that came to mind to keep the conversation flowing, and I now know that isn’t necessary. It is just as effective to provide comfort through mannerism and expression as it is through words. I used to respond to a patient telling me about their co-morbidities by saying “Ok”, but now I have learned that a lot of emotion and understanding is conveyed throughout mannerisms and this is a skill I will utilize in future counseling scenarios. More often than not, those unspoken words actually result in the patient further informing you of the current situation. This assignment also reinforced what we learned in class regarding how important it is not to judge our patients. It is much easier to judge a patient when they tell us something unusual then it is to be compassionate, that is why empathy is a skill that requires practice and is developed.

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