Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fathers Day

Fathers Day is one I've never paid much attention to. I've only been a father for a relatively short time, and the holiday never seems to have as obvious of celebratory possibilities as others. So, it didn't hurt my feelings that I was scheduled to work on Fathers Day shortly after church was to end.

The lesson in Sunday School focused largely on service--how we can make it a more meaningful part of our lives, do it more, etc. I thought a bit about medicine and how enamored I've been with the idea of getting paid to do something so interesting all while thinking about it as "serving." It's a healing art, and that just seems cool. But, in the practice, sometimes the comforts and real basic needs of the patients get swallowed up in the establishment's regulations and standards of care: you have to be certain this antibiotic is given within this amount of time, you must wait until the nurse has completed the triage sheet, you must have this paperwork before giving this treatment. It ends up feeling a lot less like service and a lot more like an assembly line.

But every once in a while you get a patient like Judy.

Judy was my first patient on Fathers Day. She had fallen several times that day, but still didn't want to come in for evaluation. For several days she had been unable to walk steadily, a cancer patient of several years with so much pain that she would rather just curl up and lie on the floor than try to move for... well, anything. She was so nauseated she didn't want to turn over to look at me when I came in the room. Unfortunately, the nurses had been forced to cut off her hair because the caked vomit made it so tangled it couldn't be washed. Her skin was irritated from feces and infections secondary to poor hygiene.

"Just leave me alone, okay?" With the pressures of twenty or more patients in the waiting room thinking their concern is the most important in their life, sometimes it's hard to slow down to extend some reassurance to someone who isn't likely to accept it. But there are certain situations where the raw emotional nature forces you to slow down and think about what's really going on, what's important in life, and what you really must do.

When I see my little boy playing and learning, sometimes I get this feeling of desperation that he's too good for the world. I worry that once he's old enough to go to school or the playground or elsewhere, there will be bullies and obnoxious teachers and... people who don't care about him as I do.

I wonder what Father in Heaven thinks about his children going off to Earth where there are bullies and mean people. Or just cancer, debilitation, and social injustices. I assume he hopes, as I do, that someone will step in and watch over his dear ones. "We'll leave you alone if you want Judy, but we can help make you feel better. We can help you. It's okay, Judy."

I have a habit of getting so wrapped up in my own life, my own struggles, my own desires, that I forget that the road to happiness is to forget myself and follow Christ's example to minister to others. I was grateful for that reminder on Fathers Day.

3 comments:

playasinmar said...

"A boy is a magical creature you can lock him out of your workshop, but you can't lock him out of your heart. You can get him out of your study, but you can't get him out of your mind. Might as well give up he is your captor, your jailer, your boss and your master a freckled-faced, pint-sized, cat-chasing bundle of noise. But when you come home at night with only the shattered pieces of your hopes and dreams, he can mend them like new with two magic words Hi, Dad!" -Alan Marshall Beck

Gimple said...

Thanks for the great story! That makes me really excited to get into medical school...

Happy late father's day! I bet you are the coolest dad ever, because you are just amazing!

Forester said...

I don't know whether to be jelous of you having a job you are so passionate about or whether to feel sorry for you because you have to deal with so much pain every day. You carry this huge responsibility as a doctor. I would buckle under the pressure. You're a good man. I'm so glad you are gay. It makes me feel connected to such a wonderful man. I admire your strength and your convictions.