Pocket Wisdom

I was rifling through a box of papers from the days of my first few years of practice in the small town of Chemainus (1994-1998).    The beginning of learning how to care for patients and fit into the medical system.   I came across a folded up piece of paper that I recognized as one I had carried in my lab coat pocket for many of those early years…

Ode to Patient Care

If we speak with the tongues of specialists and consultants,

and have not love, we will have nothing more than the noise

of our own voices and the clanging of pet ideas.

If we develop new methods, write new curriculum,

and learn new techniques,

and if we understand all about the five stages of dying

so that we are not surprised when a patient is angry or depressed:

and yet we have not love, we are useless.

If we give up our old anxieties about talking with patients

concerning their true feeling,

but we have not love, we gain nothing.

Love never ends.

As for tumour conferences,

they will pass away;

As for workshops,

they will cease;

As for inservice training,

it will change.

For our methods are always imperfect

and our plans often don’t work out.

When I first became a helper, I thought like an idealist

and talked like an expert.

As I began to mature, I realized that I too was afraid

and the patient often taught me.

For now we see only reflections of sickness and death,

but someday we will see them face to face.

And the time will come when we will know for sure what it is like,

and we will be sorry we ever judged.

So methods, techniques, case conferences, care plans,

seminars, small group experiences, counselling-

There is all this and much more we would suggest for

gaining insight and increasing effectiveness:

But greater than all of these is love.

Dan McEver

Now posted once again where I practice daily so I can be reminded of what really matters….

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True Love

I came across this quote today, and it reminded me of what true friendship and love really is.  I feel fortunate to have experienced such love in my life.
 
 

“Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.”

African song

ccFlickr shared by smig44_uk

Visitation

Scan 5 - Version 2

Carlene and Carl

I was born on his birthday.

I share his name….and every year from the time I was born until I finished university and moved away, we would celebrate our birthdays together.

The baby years where all I wanted to do was grab the cake, through the awkward years where I was “too cool”,  to our last birthday together when he was in hospital.

I didn’t get to see him before he died.  Family members all went to be with him, to be present, say goodbye.  But I was too far away to get there.  I figured it was okay.  It hadn’t been that long since I had last seen him.  But when I got the call that he had died I felt not only loss, but a horrible sense of Scan 2 - Version 2guilt that I wasn’t there.

That night he came, in a dream that wasn’t a dream. He said to me that it was okay.  It was okay that I hadn’t been there, and that he loved me and he would always be with me. That was it.  So brief, yet with complete certainty it was him.

Today is our birthday and he is on my mind.

I know others who have had such visitations; from a child lost as a baby, a grandmother, a beloved dog.  The stories need to honored as much as the memory.

Scan 3 - Version 2Happy Birthday Grandpa.

Love Matters

ccFlicker shared by deeplifequotes

I had an interesting conversation today with a teacher as I was giving her a flu shot.  When I asked her what grade she taught, she said she taught grade two and went on to tell me that she felt lucky everyday to come to work.

How often do you hear that?

She told me that she really loves her students, but went on to say that maybe she cares too much, becomes too attached to her students and maybe that wasn’t such a good thing.

I told her I actually thought the opposite was true.

The more you care about those you serve, the more you know them, the better you are able to teach them.  When a child feels that you actually care about them, can depend on a connection, they are more apt to listen, be more open to taking risks in their learning and stretch to meet expectations.

Love matters.

For me, it’s the patients for whom I’ve stayed up late at night researching drug therapies for, those I’ve called to see how their chemo is going, how their son’s depression is, and those that I’ve checked on by email when I am away; the connections I have with those patients make me a better practitioner.  They remind me that the better I get to know a patient, the more I know about their family, what matters to them, how they feel about their health and other matters in their life, the better able I am to advise them, help them make decisions regarding their therapy and teach them how to manage their illnesses and disease.

Love matters.

If you love what you are doing, ultimately you are happier.  If you are happy in your life’s work, whether it’s education, health care or other pursuits, you will do a better job.

As that teacher walked back to her classroom I thought, “That’s the kind of teacher I wish I would’ve had as a child.”

Bridges

ccFlickr shared by Dave Pearson

 

A question can become the bridge that connects us to the lives of others; to those we love and to those we’ve only just met.

I have a friend who, no matter what is going on in her own life, always asks questions of the person she is talking to.   Whether the person she is speaking to is four or ninety-four, she will ask about their family, their work, their day to day, often remembering the smallest details from previous conversations.

The beauty is not that she asks the question but that when you answer her she is completely in that moment.  She has a beautiful way of making the other person feel like she is totally focused on them; that what you are saying is of utmost importance to her.

It took me awhile to discover what it was that made people in her presence feel as if they were receiving a gift. It is in the listening.

So often I find myself listening with an agenda or with the intent to reply rather than with the intent to understand.  I may think I am listening but my hearing is selective, deciding what the person’s meaning is before they have even finished talking.

In the five years of our friendship I have received this gift of being listened to over and over again. But the real gift has been in having this type of listening modelled to me which reminds me always to work at improving selfless listening in my own life.

 

 

“What have I done?”

A few weeks ago a colleague warned me that in the first year of owning and running a new pharmacy I would conclude that I had made a huge mistake.

Yup….that happened well before turning the sign to “open”!

The two weeks leading up to my opening day were chaos.  I’ve never slept so minimally, had my “to do”list grow so fast, nor seen my children so little.  As I heard repeatedly, “Mom, are you coming home late again today?” I figured I had made a mistake.  I am a clinician; I love the “care” part of health care, and here I was, steeped in putting a business together. Spending hours on end away from my family, and even when with them my mind was racing with all the things I needed to handle.

So when I walked into my brand new pharmacy on day one and flipped the sign to open, I wondered whether I had jumped into something I would resent, or at the very least not enjoy.

Then came patients through my door.  Just a few at first, and a few more each day, and I found myself in a place of privilege.  As I provided health care, I heard their stories.  Stories about caring for terminally ill spouses, stories of how difficult it is to live with chronic pain, journeys through chemo and disappointment with the system.  Even stories of past jobs and places they had visited in their life time.  As I immunized many against the flu I also shared a lot of my own story.  How I came to be in this new pharmacy, growing up in Saskatchewan, how I had started a pharmacy in Chemainus when I was very young.

It struck me once again that the connection made and the care given are what brings me joy.  Having my own pharmacy means I can structure and set up to practice the way I want.  I have control over how I care for the people who walk through my door.  There is no one to tell me I must meet a certain quota or promote sketchy treatments or unproven products.  In the end, it is worth all the headaches that I am sure will come.  So it is to the people who came through my door this week that I am grateful to, for reminding me what it’s all about.

Happy Birthday, Blog!

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by synx508

“Why do you blog?”

This is a question I’ve been asked more than once.

It’s true, it is one more thing in a busy life.  As well, it can be vulnerable to put yourself out there, being open to negative commentary or the permanence of publishing thoughts that change over time.

It’s been a year since I started this journey with “Examined Life.”  I have learned and grown as a person and as a professional in ways I couldn’t have imagined when I started.

Blogging, for me, is all about connection.  I could write in a personal journal if I just wanted to reflect for myself, but blogging involves a dialogue; the sharing, reflection and refining of thoughts and ideas, considering others’ points of view I had never thought of, being challenged on my words and actions.  All of this adds up to me being stretched as a person and as a professional.  In essence, I am better because of it.

As I’ve connected more on a global level, I have seen some of the amazing things both friends and colleagues are doing and it has taken away some of the trepidation in my own life regarding change; to be more adventurous, less afraid of moving in directions I had not considered.  I have had to look outside of my personal box, which was quite comfortable, and consider the many different ways of approaching life and health care.  I have segued into consulting which I had never even considered, I’ve rediscovered my passion for my work and continued to adapt how I teach my children. It has helped me live more in the moment and be more grateful for my life.  Thanks to all of you who have read my ramblings and to those who have furthered my own learning with your comments and emails.  Happy Birthday, blog!