On The Receiving End
Written By Guest Blogger: Melody Lay COVT
Have you ever been on the receiving end of patient care? This past week the Lay family received from others in a very special way. Almost three years ago, doctors diagnosed our son Andrew with Type 1 Diabetes. I’ve previously mentioned Andrew’s diagnosis because he’s been so generous to loan our therapy office his service dog when he isn’t using him. (You can read about Carl here) This year marked Andrew’s third year away at Florida Diabetes Camp, a special camp for children living with Type 1 Diabetes. To say this camp staffs well medically understates any effort to portray the truth about its “patient care.” This camp might as well be a remote hospital in the wilderness! During the week at least four pediatric endocrinologists live at camp and conduct rounds with registered nurses, medical and pharmacy students, and former campers living with Type 1 Diabetes. The doctors, nurses, and students volunteer each year to give children living with this chronic disease a normal camp experience. You won’t find an ordinary nineteen year-old filling a summer camp role here…this camp is stacked with medical support. Except where staffing is concerned, this place typifies summer camp in every other way.
Today, we drove out excited to retrieve Andrew from camp. Pick up is pretty typical of retrieving any kiddo from camp. We walk to the cabin to say, “hi”, haul out fifty pounds of wet, dirty laundry, and check the back porch of the cabin for lost items. (There’s always ten pair of underwear on the back porch, but it’s not worth determining if any belong to my son. I’d rather just buy more.) Then comes time to say good-bye. Andrew gives high fives to his friends, exchanges phone numbers, says bye to his counselors, and walks out to wait for another year.
As a parent, the thanks I express to the counselors and staff seems inadequate. How do you convey gratitude to people who volunteer their time to provide a life-changing week to your child? If these doctors, nurses, students, and people with Type 1 Diabetes did not volunteer their time and skill, my son would not benefit from camp, period. He would miss out on meeting new friends, telling ghost stories around the campfire, competing in games, camp cheers, feeling homesick, and being surrounding with people who are living with the exact same disease. He wouldn’t have the role model of men and women who have lived with this disease for 10, 20, or 40 years and remain independent and healthy. As a mom, expressing thanks to this group of professionals leaves me with a lump in my throat because they will never know how much their efforts impact my son…and me.
Then I started thinking about vision therapy and what gratitude and emotion are packed in the words “Thank You” when echoed by a parent. Countless times we hear these words from parents, “Thank you, this has been life changing for our family!” I usually acknowledge their sentiment with “it has been my pleasure, Sally worked hard. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to work with her.” Our parents and patients experience being on the receiving end of our patient care. They are GRATEFUL!!!! What opportunity we have to touch patient’s lives! While we may think of it as “doing our job,” it’s quite possible parents are infinitely more grateful for the difference therapy makes on their child than we realize. After my experience being on the receiving end at camp, it inspires me. As I think about the reasons I am thankful for the team of professionals who work with my son, it reminds me that we are a team of professionals privileged to influence and shape lives. Just as camp teaches Andrew to gain independence in self-management, our profession transfers new skills that promote self-confidence, better performance, goal achievement, self-discovery, persistence, and a safe environment to fail, learn, and ultimately succeed. A multitude of factors enter into the end result of satisfied and thankful parents/patients. Our high quality professional standards, the skill set we provide through therapy procedures, our empathetic nature, humor, creativity and wit, compassion and patience, listening and observation, and encouragement and guidance name a few. When we go to work tomorrow, let’s find encouragement in the gratitude of our patients and parents. After being on the receiving end of great care this week, I’m refocused on providing the best patient care possible. And if you’re wrapping up therapy with a family this week, I hope they express deep gratitude for your care. They will mean it, even though their “thank you” will never express all the feelings they have about the way you have touched their lives!