a book and it’s cover…

We’ve all heard the old cliche about judging a book by it’s cover.  Whether we’re  talking books, old houses, restaurants, or even patients – especially patients – outward appearance usually is no reflection of content or character.  What’s more, judging someone or something based on what we see can be damaging, and just plain unfair.  I once had an adult patient who was missing half his skull following surgery to remove cranial pressure.  He would get many puzzling looks in the reception area, and by his own admission, was “a scary sight”.  He figured out very quickly though that it didn’t matter what people thought, because he couldn’t do much about it anyway.  Scary or not, he was a joy to work with, and taught me a lot of about patient care and about life.  Truly someone who had an impact.

At some point in our career, perhaps we all have experienced this.  Maybe you spot a patient in the reception area who is hard on the eye for one reason or another or even struggling with the most remedial tasks, and quietly think to yourself  “Oh No”.  We cannot help it.  Judging the fibers of our world is a function woven into the fabric of our primal defenses.  The strength we all possess is the ability to override that initial response with something more powerful, and much more sophisticated.  Compassion.  Compassion helps us understand that most people are doing their best, whether or not we understand their struggles.  They didn’t forget their deodorant today to annoy their Vision Therapist.  Their hair is not disheveled to attract attention.  They are not missing part of their skull because they think it will somehow gain them favors. Today, they are doing their best, just like you and me. Regardless of their outward appearance, it’s what’s inside that is important.  They are in the process of playing the cards they’ve been dealt, and like all of us, they don’t always have the perfect hand.

The last two weeks have been tough for me.  Between an increased patient load, mentoring deadlines, ever expanding administrative duties, and a new EMR program, my nerves are frayed.  You may have noticed this is my first blog posting in  almost two weeks.  Like everyone, these times of high stress are when I’m more inclined to cut corners and pass unfair judgments; maybe even have an “Oh No” moment in my mind.  Not in a malicious way, but more of a function of a weaker filtering process thanks to stress and fatigue. It never hurts to remind myself that regardless of my trials or tribulations, patients coming to our office still need my help.  Not my judgement.

I guess the old cliche holds true…

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Posted on April 29, 2013, in From My Perspective.... Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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