Student poem (Nkululeko Makelane): Should I give money to my patients?

I’m experimenting with sharing student work as part of the News section on the site (with their permission, of course). This is a poem written by a 3rd-year student in 2018 (Nkululeko Makelane), which I thought showed remarkable insight to and empathy for the experiences of the patient.

It was time,
I checked the diary and her name looked familiar.
She never misses her appointments.
Today though, she doesn’t look very happy,

Not angry, not at all, sad it is.
We walked to the gym.
The energy was not the same,
She just used her last Rands.

I asked her how she feels,
Is there pain? Are you feeling better? Are you feeling worse?
She stares and replies,
No, I’m fine.

Mama but you came for your appointment,
are you sure there is no pain.
“I had a date though, I had to attend” she said.
She just used her last Rands.

To make sure she really had no pain I do every test I could think of.
Negative they all came out.
I leave her to go finalize her discharge.
We are done Mama, no more physio, you can go home.

She looks down, “I don’t know how”, she says.
I just used my last Rands.
I feel bad she came just to be discharged,
I know I can help, but am I allowed to?
First rule, beginning of block
You are the Physio. They are the patients.
Nothing personal.

I let her leave,
knowing she just used her last Rands.

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