|Sir William Osler|
After a patient with AIDS was admitted to the medical service with an acute gastrointestinal bleed, he repeatedly expressed his disapproval for the delay in receiving a medicated cream to treat his mild case of seborrheic dermatitis. When I suggested that he should worry more about taking the HIV medications and addressing the current GI bleed, he put things in perspective for me.
"Doc, I may be a bit vain about my face, but when I am broken out" he said in a low voice, "people be asking me if I have that disease (HIV)."
The biopsychosocial impact of illness is undeniable. In this instance, I had failed to recognize his fear of stigma from even a mild case of seborrhea. I was properly humbled.
To quote Sir William Osler: Care more particularly for the individual patient than for the special features of the disease (address to the students of Albany Medical College, 1899).