Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lesson in life from a stranger

Wednesday was all about me working through flu – fever, running nose, headache, blurred vision – name it. Ms. Laurie, my patient at 12 snapped me out of my flu mode completely by letting me peek into her soul for the brief time she spent with me.
 Wheel chair bound lady whose family decided it would be less trouble for them, if she was put in a home for the elderly and the disabled. She suffers from arthritis with her left knee and ankle in constant pain in addition to a mild paralysis of the right side with slurred speech –thanks to her CVA. Ms. Laurie was wheeled into my operatory and was assisted by her care taker in moving from the wheel chair into my examination chair. The care taker then took off to get a smoke. My assistant came along took the usual set of x rays enquired her reason for visiting us and fetched me with a " just a check up".
As I entered the room and with what is now a habit and a setting in the sub conscious mind, I noted the make of the wheel chair -nothing fancy, pretty uncomfortable on the back and definitely needed someone else to move it around. My patient sat on my chair, patiently, alert, eager. Her left ankle was in a cast that suggested a recent fall that might have resulted in a hairline fracture or a sprain. It just told me, she was not ambulatory and needed assistance in activities of daily living.  
I don’t know much about her family or her life. Its probably not my business and there definitely is no need to know. Yet it made me think of all the struggles she must have gone through to bring up the very kids or siblings that have abandoned her at time of her need. As I explained to her that she would need a couple of injections and a deeply lodged piece of tooth to be removed, revealed all the painful parts of the procedure, questioned her mental readiness to go through an intense procedure of that nature – she looked up at me and said “thank you”. Her thought was that I was helping her in a situation where I don’t have to. She further explains how this treatment is more her need than mine. She told me how she would be a hero through the procedure, just coz I agreed to perform it. I was a little taken away with it. Yes, in my profession, “Thank you” is a rare word to hear. Especially at the practice I am at. But more than just that, it was the spirit of this woman that swayed me. With the amount of emotional, mental and physical pain she was going through on a daily basis for years together, with no hope of anything getting better, she retained what was unique about her –her heart brimming with humaneness; of humility, gratitude and just keeping her perspective selfless. In today’s world where everyone wears horse benders, to be able see selflessness and such faith in the power above is exemplary and inspiring. She gave me a new benchmark to live up to.
On all those frustrated days, when every patient that walks through my door ends up making me wonder why I should wake up the next morning and do this all over again, Ms Laurie taught me coz it was the right thing to do. In order to keep our sanity and peace of mind, we need to do what we believe is right, irrespective of what difference it makes. That we are enough within ourselves. What others do for us only enriches our experience but the true bliss lies in what we do for ourselves in any situation , with no thought of consequence, no thought of entitlement.
Ms. Laurie bore the discomfort of an invasive procedure that will leave her with moderate post operative pain. Her experience would entail coming in with relatively no discomfort in her mouth and returning with significant pain for the next couple of days. She did that for herself, so she would not suffer from excruciating pain at a later date. Had she thought of how she was already in so much pain and refused treatment saying she doesn't deserve to be in more pain currently and will deal with whatever comes along later -she would look back at how someone who had forethought was offering help and she refused it.
Entitlement-it’s the driving word in everybody’s life these days. It dictates reaction and action. Before the thought of what did I do different that another hasn’t; before the thought of how much have I really made a difference to somebody else’s life – it’s how dare I dint get what I deserve. Its refreshing to know that there are people around that care to acknowledge another’s contribution to their life and be oblivious to the idea of entitlement. It takes immense strength and self-belief to be that gracious of a person.
I hope I can be as gracious and until then, I hope I always recognize greatness whenever it passes by me. Greatness can sometimes be profound in just simple acts of living.