“ Give what you have. To someone it may be better than you dare to think. ”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I just saw this quote and had to repost it, because on the days you don’t feel “enough” you never know how what you have to give is going to help someone.
Yesterday on call I had an awesome conversation with Angus, an artist, a patient observer, a veteran, a native from this area, an inspiring human being. He shared with me an amazing article about a native Alaskan woman who changed the laws to defend subsistence living in Alaska after she and her fellow Alaskan natives were cut off from their life-long fish camp (http://www.alaskadispatch.com/slideshow/photos-remembering-katie-john).
He also told me inspiring stories about the people’s lives that he has touched. He used to be an alcoholic and was “down and out” and has come a long way to where he is now. And now he watches over people like a guardian angel when they are in the hospital sick, or at a low point in their life.
He told me how one day he felt compelled to go to the library, and he had no idea why, but he went any way. He was there looking at books and wondering why he went, and felt an intense gaze of someone else there. He looked up and a woman was staring at him. She asked him who he was and if he had been working at the hospital as a sitter/patient observer (to watch over people who are having thoughts of suicide) several years before and he confirmed that he was. She asked if she could give him a hug, and then told him how she thought nobody cared about her and she wanted to die. She was brought to the hospital and there was a guardian angel who watched over her every night. And for the first time she felt that somebody cared, and then told him that now she is now a village-based counselor, caring for people in her own village. He was surprised that such a simple thing that he did made such a difference to her.
He was asking me about myself and I told him that I grew up in Papua New Guinea, in a village in the middle of the jungle, and how I felt caught between two worlds, especially when I moved to the US–my parents home culture, but not my own. He told me, “be proud of who you are and where you came from. It makes you unique and it gives you a different perspective.” And he told me more stories of finding purpose. He is so encouraging. He also makes coffee for us every day.
Later I had a patient who I saw in the ED for chest pain, and in a long conversation with him, I found out that he has daily thoughts of suicide. He felt like nobody cared about him, and earlier in his life he tried to hang himself and his friend rescued him. He said since then, he has never told anyone about his thoughts of suicide, and keeps so much buried inside. During our conversation I found out that he raised his siblings when his mom died and they were young and he took care of them and worked as the postal worker in place of his dad when he was binge drinking. He served in the military for years. He is an amazing cook, and has done so much for people around him. I told him some stories, and shared some of the words that Angus had told me, and he was so tearful and grateful and asked for help. Luckily we have awesome counselors here in our Behavioral Health Services that he got to talk to more.
Overall it was a great call weekend with good medical cases. I got to do another D&C (dilatation and curettage) tonight after a miscarriage. It was somewhat complicated and I had to call the head doctor, because I was nervous that the patient was still having some light bleeding. But overall it went well. I’m so glad at how many procedures I’ve gotten to do here–in so many areas of general practice, including OB-Gyne/women’s health, ortho/sports medicine, trauma..etc. I just need more baby deliveries, because those are the most fun! 🙂