I think any good health care provider must learn as much from their patients as they learn from you.
I cared for a morbidly obese man, and my jaw dropped to the floor when he sprung out of bed and teetered to the bathroom himself, independent of a walker or oxygen or assistance. He broke the typical mold and required no insulin to regulate diabetes, and his cheerful personality brightened my smile instantly. I learned that it is possible to defy the norm and live a happy, independent life despite morbid obesity.
I cared for a frail, elderly woman who was the pure essence of sweetness. Every time I entered her room, she welcomed me with a huge smile and I was baffled by her sweet nature and agreeableness. She was so kind and worry-free, and despite her age she walked without a walker, ate a regular diet instead of pureed foods, and didn’t require oxygen. I kept hounding her for the secrets to life, love, and her health. She insisted her health was a product of old-fashioned home-cooked food on the farm, and the secret of love was finding someone who you consider your best friend. I learned that I want to be her when I’m in my 90’s, instead of the anxious, bitter dementia patient I envision myself as: locking caregivers in the bathroom and accusing everyone of stealing her shoes.
I cared for a seizure patient who shared his whole life story with me, year by year. His past was incredulous, and I learned that some of us are lit with an inner spark of drive – to prevail despite our odds.
I have learned to enter patients rooms with intentions more than simply obtaining their vitals and fulfilling my job duties. I want to listen, hear their incredible stories, and learn from them.