A Routine Exam
When recalling events, encounters with ER patients over the years, one of my most memorable I will share now.
The ER physician ordered a routine x-ray of cervical spine. My patient was an older gentleman. He was very gentle and kind in demeanor. He had very pale, fragile skin which made his very dark, coarse wig very oddly evident as you looked at him. I had to ask him to remove the hair piece as it had metal pins, holding it to his underlying hair and would be unacceptable as artifact on the films.
Your first human reaction is a smile and trying not to chuckle as the immediate picture is a bit comical. At that moment, I was taken to a very acute awareness – this man was very upset he had to remove his hair piece. He asked me to please let him leave it on. I explained why I needed it to be removed. He - then complied with the instruction and began to weep.
This was the most profound moment for me as I became privy to the most intimate situation for this sweet man. He cried as he told me, he hated looking so old, so he wears the hairpiece to look younger.
I was thrust into a position from technologist to a very personal encounter – what can I do or say to east this man’s embarrassment? I told him the truth. I said him how he looked very fine, with his real hair and how he should try not to be upset at having to remove it – and I promised not to divulge his secret – please stop crying. What a difficult thing to find the right words –so, I hope, I convinced him is natural look was handsome and distinguished, not to hide his years, to be proud of where he has been. A lesson for all to learn and also to remind us in healthcare, you never know what that simple, routine exam might turn into.
Be kind, courteous and thoughtful. We will be there someday!!
Today I saw a patient in the ER. She was 85 years old female. She had an amazing sense of humor. It was so easy to feel the life in her, which talking to her.
I am always curious to find out from people, what they did right in the life, to come to a point in the life where they are enjoying the life thoroughly.
Here is what she revealed :
1. Her husband passed away 7 years back, but when he passed away, they had been married for almost 64 years !!
2. She said – everyday when he 3 kids came home from school, she was home to welcome at the door. Kids had the sense of security to see mom home.
3. The daughter said – mom lived her life through music. She was choir director for more than 40 years at the church and she passed on that talent to the next generation to some extent.
This was an interesting insight into a happy fulfilled life.
Having been married to one person for more than a 6 decades in itself something to cherish. She said in those days, marriages were a life time promise. I know that sometimes in marriages, things may not be working out and the only options could be divorce. But if more of us, gets committed and stays committed to only one person ( our spouse) for rest of the life, I think majority of social problems can disappear. A country is as strong as its family unit and the strength of the family unit depends on the husband-wife relationship.
Having a mom at home, who does not NEED to work, is now a days a luxury. In this economy, most families do require 2 income to just survive. There is a great book by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi - The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents are Going Broke , which talk about the same thing. I do understand that its not always possible for mom to stay home. For my own 2 kids, this is what I have followed. When kids come home from school, see mom at home and go to their room – it sounds like they did not care if mom was home or not – but in reality, it does matter to them. Just the fact that mom is home could be a biggest sense of security.
Another thing she mentioned was MUSIC. Music can be a resting place for the soul, not matter what we are going through. The person who learns to enjoy and share the music probably will never be at mercy of circumstances, as he/she will be able to release his emotions through music. He/She will also be able to communicate through music.
Great lessons of life learnt in the ER !!