Mercy me! It’s been busy lately. My day was full—I had to medevac a sick patient, inherited an admission, and admitted 7 patients (to myself), all while covering a pretty busy ER. On the weekend, I rounded on my 8 patients, and while I was not so delighted about it being my day off, I had lots and lots of beautiful, heart-filling encounters.
As family medicine doctors, practicing full-spectrum care in a rural setting, we get to see every type of patient–from the cutest little sick kids. I have an image of two sisters side-by-side in the hospital bed (one was a patient, one wasn’t), the older sister looking out for her little, hospitalized sister. She had bright glasses that matched her little sister’s oxygen mask. They were snuggled under a homemade patchwork quilt, reading a book. They made the hospital look cute, and as far from a hospital as possible. 🙂
I get to see a lovely grandma, who could be their grandma, who could be anyone’s grandma. Who is such a kind soul. All she wanted to do was spend time with her grandkids, but she didn’t want to get them sick. 🙂
Sometimes we see the same people, our patients, out in the community, like the cute family I saw at the airport, on my way to Kansas City on Halloween~the kids were in the cutest costumes, their grandma beaming with pride and happiness, loving on them, soaking up the joy and beauty of being a grandma. I hadn’t met them yet, but they made an impression on me, an image that I wanted to capture and remember. These are all the kinds of connections that we get to relish. It brightens my day. 🙂
We get to see elders in fragile, medical conditions, and I love it when the whole dear family comes to visit. So many people, so many loved ones sitting around telling stories, reminiscing, giving a patient the most precious gifts of all–love and quality time. They all clearly cared very much about their dad, brother, grandpa, uncle. I hope we all get that when we are old and frail and in the hospital.
We get to see the amazing, inspiring lady who has been sober for a few weeks now, and she was so happy and proud of her success. Sooo wonderful. 🙂 I gave her a big hug and congratulated her. That is a big thing to do.
And to top it off, we get to see other beautiful elders, like the one from a village, who I have wanted to see again for a long time. I had said I want to paint a picture of her, well I kept on wishing I would have. And I thought I would probably never get the chance again. Well, sure enough, she tells me it has a hard time living in the pretty tough setting of bush Alaska with honey buckets, no running water, no electricity, and now she is forgetting to shut the doors to keep out the winter. And I asked her and her grandson (who has escorted her in) if I could take a picture of her to paint her. They both said yes, and told me that other people have captured the beauty of her through photographs and art. This time I will paint a picture of her. 🙂
Her grandson told me that it is hard to see her this way now, because she used to be so, so strong. She was a lady who always did the right thing, she worked hard, she taught her children well. When she said something, everybody listened. She is so highly respected. I know the health aids all admire and lover her so much. In fact, the whole village has been helping her take of her while she has been slowly falling into the waywardness of aging and dementia. Because she is so loved. When her daughter and her great grandson came to visit, she just looked adoringly at her great grandson. She didn’t really know who he was, but her eyes were full of love all the same. She is the most pleasant, content, peaceful, beautiful, smiling patient I have ever met. She just beams when I walk into her room. Today with the sunlight on her face, she was shining.
Not all of these are patients, often they are just people in the community who become friends and open up their hearts and souls.
Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.
–Zora Neale Hurston, from Their Eyes Were Watching God
(I stole this quote from Dave Padvorac’s awesome blog, porchcoffee.org, this post: http://www.porchcoffee.org/2014/08/06/change/ :)).