One of the things I love about my job is interacting with patients, whether it be teaching them things they don’t know about nutrition, listening to their stories or trying to help them feel better. Even being yelled at or mildly threatened – it’s all part of the experience. Pretty much every day I leave the hospital remembering a certain patient or two who either made me laugh, broke my heart or grossed me out. Last week was no exception – the patients I saw ranged from young to old, with conditions like severe COPD, anorexia nervosa, metastatic cancer, bedbugs, elder abuse; you name it, I saw it.
Park Ave: unrelated, but lovely
But the person I can’t forget about from last week was one I met at my other job – the standing Sunday running store gig. Sometimes I wish I had a full “weekend” of no work, but for the most part I like working on Sundays. This past weekend, on Mother’s Day, a small family came in to buy shoes. The little boy was probably about 6 or 7, thin and completely bald. His mom needed new shoes, and while she and the boy went to the bathroom the dad and I started chatting. They were from Indiana but hadn’t been home in months due to cancer treatments at a hospital here for the little guy. The doctors had just found something new and he needed more radiation as soon as he was healthy enough. I told the dad what I did for a living and we talked about what his son eats and doesn’t eat (dietitian mode, what can I say), and what a long road it’s been for them. And then the dad said, “But you know, even after all this time and all of the treatments, he hasn’t complained once.”
Tears sprung to my eyes as the little boy and his mom came back to try on shoes. While we tried to find her the perfect shoe I became totally mesmerized by the tiny, little guy who sat quietly by his parents’ side and confided to me that while he didn’t like ice cream, he loved chocolate chip cookies, and that they had plans to go to the playground for a little bit after his mom got shoes. I couldn’t help but wonder how often he didn’t get to play or have friends or do normal kid things because of his cancer and treatment. I had such an urge to hug this little guy, feed him some cookies and PediaSure (dietitian mode) and take him to the park myself. Both of his parents had a weary look in their eyes that said “we’re exhausted and so worried, but if he’s got a good attitude about this then we better have one too,” and I kind of wanted to hug them too. Needless to say, by the time the family left my heart was a little broken and I asked myself a question that now pops into my head all too often - “Why does life seem so unfair for some people?”
I think one of the big reasons why I haven’t talked or really thought much about my injury lately is because it doesn’t seem like a big deal compared to all the other things I see on a daily basis. It’s a bump in the road, and that’s all it is. Now more than ever it makes me crazy when people whine and complain about the most ridiculous things (especially via social media) “ruining” their perfect day(s). Sometimes we all need to take a step back and be thankful for what we have, realize we are being ungrateful assholes, and get on with life (which is pretty great).
I had to take the day off work today to present my final research project this afternoon at school. After that, I’ve got one final tomorrow night. The light at the end of the tunnel is blinding