Monday, January 27, 2014

There are 2 perspectives here...

Yes, I know. I know that without patients, there are no doctors. But that works both ways as well. Hear me out--this will probably sound very conceited and vain of me, but I need to say it. Granted, without doctors, there will still be sick people and suffering, but whomever was suffering without a doctor would not be a "patient." They would be some poor soul, dealing with part of a fallen world that is left to decay and degrade and to go to chaos.  To be a "patient" implies that a person has sought help and is willing to accept some form of that help.  To be a "doctor" implies offering aid and trying to relieve suffering. To me, there is an unwritten contract there. And much of that unwritten contract hinges on respect. Respect from both the doctor and the patient. This, in a way, is my plea for respect.

Many times when I am most frustrated with my work, I feel it is when I am accused of not caring, not being enough, not doing enough, not listening enough, not fixing enough. I know I can never be in that patient's shoes to understand fully, but more often than not, I think I take on the patient's perspective much more than they take on mine.

They don't see the 22 year old me, starting into a life that could take more and reward more than any other. They don't see me crying tears before each test, wondering if I was going to be enough. They don't see me struggling and ready to give up and leave this mess and this trial and this world. They don't see the me who realized I didn't know how to garner self-worth without a test to ace or a professor to awe. They don't see my husband standing by and trying his best. They don't see making futile plans and going days to work and school being sick and worrying about others first while holding your own symptoms back. They don't see the stain of mommy guilt each and every day. They don't see the yearning or the need to connect but not having the time. I sit by, and I listen and I try.

When they see a hurried or rushed or flustered or distracted me, they've not seen that I just spent an extra 20 minutes in a room crying or praying with a woman still raw from the loss of her grown child.

When they see a running behind me, they don't see that I helped get the new mom to latch her baby on after trying two or three or four different times and positions.

When they see an authoritative me, they don't see the flashbacks I have of people not understanding or not listening to my advice and then paying dearly, sometimes with their lives.

When they see a tired me, they don't see that I was taking care of their next-door neighbor late into the night or finishing notes, or waking up at 3 am with my own child for the last few nights.

When they see a happy me, they don't see that maybe I've had a fight with my husband over the same old thing that morning.

When they see an angry me, they don't see that there is sometimes a tiny threatened or intimidated or insecure me hidden deep down inside.

When they see a sad me, somtimes rarely... they may be seeing the real me.

Sometimes I feel like I am the same as just some service industry...come get your oil changed, get your hair cut, or have your house cleaned. But I'm not. I'm not that. I'll try and try- but I'm not always here to please. Sometimes I'm here to chide and to reprove and to instruct and to encourage and, and, and.....

And I am human. I am a human who has lost more sleep, spent more time, thought more thoughts and worried more nights than most. My job is never done. It's never enough. I won't ever be through, because there is always more. I feel the weight of failure and the reward of a good job well done more than any other, and each day, must rise again...brushing off the day before and hoping it won't bleed through too much...or not enough.

Grace of a "Good Job"

The other day, I told my nearly-two-year-old "Good Job."  Simple, say it probably 5 times a day to him. No big deal, really. But then, I noticed his little face.
"Good Job" smeared satisfaction all across his chubby little cheeks. It made an impact. It made him feel important. It made him feel accomplished. And, in one moment, I was both proud and convicted.
Proud --because my little man was starting to feel self-worth and to have understanding of being praised for doing something correctly. This praise left him yearning for more and wanting to hear this phrase again. He craved that attention and the good feeling it imparted.  He wanted to continue to "do a good job."
Convicted--because in that second, I came to understand that being happy about having yourself praised is one of those almost innately ingrained things and essential to our human-ness. I was convicted, because it exposed a deficiency in my life in giving that praise.
Obviously, wanting praise follows us into our adult lives.  And I realize, I am HORRIBLE, absolutely deficient and failing in telling those around me a simple, "Good job."
Horrible at telling my husband, horrible at telling my kids, horrible at telling those who work with me, horrible at telling those who work for me.
I think medicine is especially sinister in this respect. We have a culture of finding fault and worrying about blame and pointing the finger and hoping it is the other guy who gets sued. Instead of saying "It's awesome you did this" it is often "Why didn't you think of that?" With my office, it is always finding somebody doing something wrong or leaving something out or not thinking or, or, or. There is always something to find....but I'm not searching for the right things.
It's no wonder I struggle with problems especially related to work. So much easier to criticize and to antagonize. For me, saying "Good job" at work requires thought. I have to force it. It isn't natural. Sometimes it hurts.  It has to be brought forward from the depths of my unconscious, from the deep, dark recesses of my cortex. I have to grow it up and nurture it and let it crowd out the weeds of my pride before it bursts forth from my lips and bears fruit in my life. It isn't coming from my heart yet...but what my cortex can learn, maybe my heart will embrace.
So I look at my little boy, and I thank him. I am thankful for his big spirit, and his eyes that say exactly what he is thinking. I am thankful that he could shine a light on a part of my life I never would think that a two year old could reveal. But he did, and he did even better than a "Good job."