Life in the sl-ooooow lane

Life as a “groupie” rarely appeals to me. Either I like to be the center of attention too much to share it with that many people, or I just don’t have what is required to fit in. I thought the latter was the case when I first moved to Bellingham to start a new hospital job. A large group from my dept would eat lunch together around a huge work table. I tried a few times to join in. It was awhile back, but if memory serves me well, conversations tended to veer two directions: sex, or patient oddities. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against sex,  but I didn’t really want to discuss it in a group setting (besides, one of the psychologists said he could tell what someone was like in bed by reading the lines in their face… there’s brave, and there’s stupid.)  The second topic of patients,  in current practice, would definitely violate confidentiality restrictions as lunchroom subject matter.  It took me a long time to figure out that the occasional laugh about a patient’s idiosyncracies, rather than dishonoring, was in some ways a survival tactic.  Much of medicine (and caregiving) is dealing with things that are not how they should be, or at least how we expect. After awhile, ones starts to feel pushed off balance by the whole thing. I mean, tell me you thought your baby was going to blow out his diapers all over the pastor’s wife, or that your aging parent would sometime repeat himself like a broken record. Sometimes laughter turns things bright-side up again. Certain days, it’s either that or crying. And while I’ve nothing against crying either, laughter helps. It takes our eyes off ourselves, puts them back on living, and sucks in enough oxygen for the next go round. 2/21/12

 

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