“Why me?” is a song I have written in the hopes of transforming the story of the patient we visited and interviewed into something more precious and permanent. I felt mere words through a reflective essay would not have sufficiently expressed the anger, frustration, disappointment and sadness she had been feeling for the past years. Thus, the song is basically a summary of her story, trying to condense it in a way that explained both the progression of events and what she had felt or experience during the small snapshots. Through the lyrics, I hope that I have managed to highlight that she was frustrated that her cancer was not found earlier, and that she was also sad that she is not able to live like she did before (she used to be very independent but now she has to rely on others even for simple tasks). As music is a big part of me and enables me to express myself, I decided to write a song to encapsulate those feelings that came with her story. And I hope that my song has done her justice. View Lyrics of Why Me?
I have chosen to reflect on my conversation with the patient through an original piece of instrumental guitar music, newly composed for this work. I chose this medium because I have been playing the guitar since I was young, and throughout all the changes in my life, my connection with music and the guitar have been one of the few constants. I often play my guitar when I get home from a long or difficult day, or if I have something important to consider I find it helps me to focus my mind and reflect on my emotions, rather than just processing logical thoughts.
The piece “Two Journeys”, like an optical illusion, can be interpreted in either of two ways. On the one hand, it takes us on a journey that mirrors the patient’s illness experience, from prediagnosis up to the present day, including his and his wife’s uncertainty about the future. In this sense the piece represents what I have learned about death and dying: what it means to have a terminal diagnosis, the effects on family, the shift in daily mind-set that is required. On the other hand, the piece is an introspection on my personal responses to death and dying, and on my professional growth as a doctor with regard to these subjects. I have learned that asking the difficult questions is essential and cannot be avoided. This experience has taught me the importance of having the courage to do justice to the patient’s experiences, by being brave enough to ask them.