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Making the unbearable bearable: a relative’s tips to clinicians
  1. Abi Berger
  1. Correspondence to Dr Abi Berger, London, UK; journal{at}fsrh.org

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As most of us know, life feels rather different when it’s your ‘nearest and dearest’s’ health on the line, as opposed to your patient’s. It’s possibly even worse than if it were your own health at stake. I made this discovery again recently when someone close to me had a serious health problem. For a start, my anxiety levels have been through the roof, whereas as with patients, I am usually good at containing my, and my patients’, anxiety. How challenging it was to find myself in the relative’s position—the shoe on the other foot. Not only do you have to retain the appropriate boundaries to support the person you’re accompanying through the medical minefield, but you also need to ensure the patient remains the patient during their consultations. In my experience as a relative, this was not always …

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