As I write the December message, I am struggling with what theme/subjects to discuss. Do I address the flu season and remind everyone to get a flu shot as this year’s season is proving to be a strong one? Do I remind everyone to check on loved ones and patients because suicide is at it’s highest at this time of year? Do I remind everyone that Sandy Hook was five years ago, and we still have so much to do? Or, do I talk about the holidays and the good times with family and friends. I suspect I am preaching to the choir on the first few subjects, and the reminder may not be necessary.
Many of us are deep into the holiday celebrations, spending time with family, friends and friends that are more like family (framily). There are white elephants, gifts and parties. I have to say, it is the parties, dinners and get togethers that are my favorite parts of the holidays. When we reflect on the past year, I am certain we all think of experiences. I look back over the year and feel thankful I took the time to go see Tom Petty at Wrigley Field before he passed. I think of seeing the dolphins at the beach. I actually still think of the Chicago Cubs and Villanova Wildcats. Even though there were no national championships, there were fun seasons and exciting games. I am thankful for the weekends of celebration with my brothers as we lost more friends this year. I think of their families, facing the holidays without their loved ones for the first time.
Last weekend, I visited my brothers, and we went to a little venue in Austin, Texas to see the Dead & Company play; great night, good music and even better friends from all phases of our lives, including grade school. So, following the band on social media, I learned a few nights later that John Mayer had had an emergency appendectomy, and a few concerts were postponed. I’m so happy that we got to enjoy the show and so sad that others’ experiences were altered. I am also happy he has fully recovered. Soon after that, Mickey Hart posted a video of John Mayer playing at a concert where he was having so much fun he did not realize that he and the bass player were the only people left on stage. The set was over, the stage was dimmed, the band had left, and Mickey had to come out and tell him his job was over for a few minutes and to take a break. What an awesome feeling that must be to love your job so much, you don’t realize the work is done.
There are days when I feel like that at work too. Days when the kids make me laugh so hard, I forget they are there because they don’t feel well. One day, I saw a young man we will call Charlie. He had a stomachache. He had been seen at a convenient care and was sent to us for further evaluation. As part of our conversation, I asked him if he stressed out or felt pressure at school (he was in 4th grade).
His response was: “Actually, no! I get to hang out with my crush this week!”
Well, I could not let that end there. The ER was busy and my charting was piling up, but I had to ask, as his mom smiled and blushed, “And who is your crush?”
I pulled my stool up to the gurney, and sat back down to listen.
“Ellie.” He paused. “Actually, I have known her since first grade. I started liking her in second grade, but recently I started having feelings for her.”
He was wringing his hands together, smiling from ear to ear, and his eyes had lit up. I learned a lot about Ellie in the next three minutes. As I left, I said a silent prayer that his heart would not be broken. But I knew before I left the room, this young man was going to be all right. The bounce back and resilience of children is amazing. This is where comprehensive care comes in with treating the body, heart and soul.
Another day, a little girl, we will call her Bobbi, came in after falling onto the driveway out of her pink Barbie Jeep. (This is important because I love pink, so the team was very excited for me when they heard this story.) She had a very big goose egg on her forehead, and the nurses were shuffling me into the room because they thought she should be evaluated quickly to determine if she needed a head CT. I briskly entered the room and could see the large bruise on her forehead. I scanned her from the doorway as she was coloring and singing in the gurney, and I asked, “Bobbi, Oh my gosh! I heard what happened. What hurts?!?”
Without hesitation - and very seriously - Bobbi looks me right in the eye and says, “Concrete!!” Can not make this up. I nodded my head and smiled. She too would be okay.
I wish you all a happy holiday season with friends and family. I hope you all take time to spend with it each other. For those of you working the holidays, may you have a Charlie or a Bobbi come into your day to make you smile and laugh. And for those of you out there celebrating for the first time without loved ones in your life, remember the good times: the meals, the parties, the concerts and the ball games. Remember to take time and make new memories. I would be remiss if I did not remind you to get a flu shot, listen a little harder this holiday season for signs of sadness in those you may be worried about, and please continue to vigilantly follow what is happening in Washington, D.C. We still have a lot to do. Wishing you all much happiness and health this season.
Humble and hungry,