I am a person

I am a patient 
and a patient is,
 first and foremost,
 a person.
The physicians and nurses who take care of me are also persons
and expect to be treated as such.
As a patient, I expect to be treated as
a subject, not an object.
I am an end in myself,
not merely a means to serve the ends
of medical science and practice.
I will not allow my humanity to be reduced to a location.
Hence, I am neither a “bed number” nor a “room number.”
Nor will I permit being referred to in dehumanizing terms.
Thus, I am neither a “gallbladder” nor a “heart” nor a “kidney.”
My medical chart and history are about my life, about me;
but by them alone, you can never know me as a person.
I am not an illness,
which is what I have.
Nor am I a diagnosis,
which describes my medical condition.
Rather, I am a person.
Treat me, then, as a person
and you will, at the same time,
treat my illness.
I am impressed by your medical knowledge and skills.
But I even more impressed by your affirming
my value as a person.
I am a patient
and a patient is,
above all,
a person.

Written by Timothy Lent

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