I love when I’m inspired by patients. And humbled. And delighted. It makes me feel better about what I do, remember why I do it. Too often my days are filled with pain, complaints, anger, sadness, denial, entitlement, rudeness and a laundry list of other negative adjectives. And then I leave home and head into work. Sorry. I can’t even make it through a serious post without sarcasm or humor. It’s a
defense mechanism gift.
In all seriousness though, sometimes its hard not to be pulled down by all the negativity. I have to consciously change my thoughts and attitude many times a day because I find them starting to align with whatever is taking most of my time and energy that day. And then one little thing happens, one sweet little thing, and its like rays of sun breaking through a grey stormy sky. A toothless smile, a “thank you”, a pat on the hand or the bum (its happened…she was a grandma and grandmas always pat your bum), a tupperware of homemade cookies, a basket of fruit, a nice card, a “would you like a bite of my mashed potatoes?” after I told him it was my favorite food, a request for Tylenol instead of oxycodone, a deep book discussion, a picture album of grandchildren and pets, a husband snuggled in the hospital bed with his cancer ridden wife. A positive attitude. It’s surprising how infrequently I come across one. A positive attitude.
And I get to thinking about humans. We really are a “glass half empty” or “glass half full” lot. To our core. Some of us are ready to be mad at the world, to see the injustices put upon us, fill our minds and souls with negativity and to see what others have that we don’t. Then there are those who roll with the punches, make the best of what we’re dealt, see the good in small things, assume the honest intent in others and very often believe what we have to offer in service to others is more important that what we should receive from them.
Take my lady patient. In her 60’s and in the hospital for treatment of the third different kind of cancer to rob her body (none of which were the result of poor lifestyle choices…sad how that makes a difference isn’t it?). This one will most definitely claim her life, as it had spread to her bones. Almost completely deaf as a result of the side effects of certain medications, she wears hearing aids and has learned to read lips. We got to chatting about her dogs and how much she will miss them, and how much she aches for what her husband will endure once she is gone. After a few contemplative moments, she stands up, puts her arm through mine and says, “But I can still see, and I can still walk. So life is good” And we walked the halls together for 20 minutes. And talked about Uggs, vegetable gardening, transatlantic flights, dog food brands and coffins. And she inspired me. Through her dying I was shown a little about how to live.