Tuesday, March 24, 2009


For many years, I would not let anyone call me "Sir".
For me it is really a sign of respect, a form or address for some one who is an elder, has accomplished something with their life, an adult.
Yesterday, leaving the Hospital, another worker I know by sight but not by name was approaching with a large linen cart. I stepped out of his way so he could pass me unhindered.
He looked me in the eye and said:
"Sorry Sir."
I did not let anyone call me that until I turned 25.
It is a very personal thing, to me at least.
Until I was about 25, I really did not feel I had accomplished anything.
I was in school to become what I am now, I was working in a fast food restaurant and felt I had made no real contributions to the world except giving people way more cholesterol than they needed.
Then on my 25th Birthday, I decided it was OK to be called Sir.
Now it is years later and I was called sir.
What have I done to merit the title of Sir?
One little word makes me pause and look at my life.
What have I done?
In an instant, when the young man wheeled clean or dirty, I don't know which, linens down the hall I assessed my life.
What have I done?
I am standing in a Rehabilitation Hospital with a great reputation, working with a great group of health care professionals. I have a great family with nephews and a niece that are doing alright. I am not an axe murderer, I keep my corner of the world clean, I halp when I can and try to leave a place better than when I got there.
I help people regain their independence, I help families be less afraid of thelife altering events they are in the midst of.
I stood up just a little taller and nodded to myself.
I can still be called "Sir".
It makes me no better, it grants me no more privilege or status, or money. But I stand a hair straighter and make a determined effort to be just a little better, to continue the right to be called Sir.

One little word creates such a pause for thought.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

It is all how you look at it

The other day I heard my least favorite comment from a patient.
"This wasn't a good session."
How the hell do you arrive at that?
You expected to live forever, or at least without major disruption, but if you are seeing me, you had a major disruption.
You think that it should be healed in a day or two, especially if it is something you can not see such as a stroke, a surgery to a part of your body you can't see, out of sight out of mind kind of injuries.
You forget that a simple kitchen cut (usually from a knife that is way too dull) and does not need stitches takes about 14 days to heal.
But when an educated mad man (a surgeon, we lock up people who cut people but you PAY this person to incise you and stitch you, they gotta be mad as a hatter!) cuts you open, cuts apart bones and either removes them or replaces them, and them staples you or sutures you closed, it is VERY different from the knife cut while preparing your mirepoix for chicken soup!
So then you look at me, after walking farther than you have since your surgery, without any (or minimal) assistance from me, you did not fall, lose your balance, have your knees buckle from a neurological problem or a strength/endurance issue, did not pass out from orthostatic hypotension from your bodies inability to regulate its own blood pressure, you did not have a cardiac arrest or pass out.
I frequently lecture my patients with the above litany and then ask them, again, if it was a good session.
They expect to be healed from a major surgery, stroke, long term illness creating debility, in a matter of days, not the weeks to months that it will really take.
But I prevail.
They admit that it was a good session.
No one is willing to take the time needed to heal correctly.
Healing is a full time job to do it right.
Listen to your Physical Therapist, your Occupational Therapist, your Speech and Language Pathologist, your Doctor and the nurses and you will get through it well.
And I will keep lecturing my people on patience and needing to accept small victories and advances in the healing process.
Heal thyself.
No, seriously, do that and let the rest take care of its self for a while.
Go ahead, I'll wait.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fire House

Driving home today, after a wonderful day at work where everything went well, the patients weren't too demanding and I was in a good space all day, I arrived at the intersection near the local fire house.
It sits at the top of the hill, a four way stop where you should not turn on red and visibility can be an issue.
I was first in my lane, headed east, but signaling to turn left, when a car on my left hand side started to run the red light they had. They shot across the intersection, I saw the passenger gesture violently to the driver not to turn right but to drive straight ahead.
That was weird enough. But...
The car screamed across the intersection and stopped in the parking lot of the fire house. the woman got out and hurried, not ran, over to the open fire truck bay door where someone met her. She gestured violently to the car she had just gotten out of.
My light had turned green and I was wanting to see the next part of this drama unfold, but the person behind me was riding my bumper.
I made my head check to the left and then right and then left again, no last minute red light runners to be seen. (believe me they run red lights around here like red is a suggestion, not a law)
I saw the driver of the car opening the rear passenger door and two very limp legs fell out, he grabbed the form of a body. I had turned the corner downhill so my rear view mirror had just a fleeting glimpse of wildly swinging legs as the limp body was carried to the fire house.
I felt my chest tighten and I felt a great wave of concern. I have been around enough to know unconscious body movement.
I hope all is well.
I am glad there were people at the fire house to take care of this emergency.
Thank god for volunteer fire fighters!


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Shaking My Head

I find myself shaking my head a great deal.
Why does one shake their head in a motion that connotates disapproval or negation?
For me, it is when someone has perpetrated an act that I consider stupid or blatantly in the face of common sense.
We could easily devolve into an argument of what common sense is, but we shant.
Today, I was driving home from work, in a good mood from a full and successful day, when a large truck, 4 door and bigger than necessary, turned out of a strip mall and landed in the two way turn lane. He accelerated but not up to speed to pass me or merge safely, but he started to enter my lane with the bumper of his truck even with my front tire. I took my foot off the gas and decelerated a bit so he could safely take over my lane of travel.
I shook my head and restrained myself from making a rude gesture or honking my horn, I just waved at the driver of the too big truck as if to say "Hey, I am here".
Maybe he did not see my red truck. Maybe he was thinking too far ahead of himself and was not aware of his now, his present.
I shake my head so often when I drive that I have relieved much of my whiplash injuries. I actually have a stronger neck because of it.
I look at these people so distracted, so not in the moment and focused here that it is truly a wonder more people are not injured or killed in automobile accidents.

Just do me a favor.
Pay attention.
Focus on the moment you are in right now, so I do not have to shake my head at you.