A Resolution for Connectedness

2015 was a big year.  Jaycob and I bought our first house.  I celebrated my 30th birthday.  I set a new personal record in a half marathon.  I was a bridesmaid in the wedding of one of my best friends and attended the first wedding of a cousin.  And I had a great year in my job, where I got promoted in our Clinical Advancement Program, took on leadership roles, was selected for the hospital's Ethics Committee, supervised 5 full-time Physical Therapy students, presented an inservice, and started a few process improvement initiatives.  I achieved some of my New Years Resolutions, while others are ongoing goals.  2015 was also a challenging year.  It was a year that brought loss and sadness, which consumed several months this fall, but which also taught me a lot about how to grieve and how to be a better friend to others who are going through trying times.  I am optimistic that 2016 will be a year of hope and new beginnings.

I spent a lot of time contemplating goals for 2016.  Of course I want to run more miles, eat more veges every day, complete my reading challenge, floss my teeth, etc.  I have ongoing goals for my health, career, relationships, finances, and personal development that challenge me and call me to be better... but what do I actually resolve to do or be in 2016?  

I'm going to begin with a story...

I had a patient who had suffered a stroke.  When I evaluated him in the intensive care unit, he used a walker to get around, needed assistance to stand up, and was a high fall risk.  He had difficulty speaking.  His blood pressure was through the roof because he couldn't afford his medication.  He was homeless, and previously relied on public transportation to get to his appointments (if he showed up for any) and to get groceries (if he bought any).  We developed good rapport and I appreciated his sense of humor.  I was advocating for him to go to our Inpatient Rehab Unit, where he would have about 14 more days of medical attention, intensive therapy, meals of his choosing, and clothes to wear, all that would most likely be provided at no cost since this patient did not have insurance.  The referral processes was going smoothly until I arrived one morning and discovered that he had checked himself out of the hospital AMA (Against Medical Advice).  I couldn't fathom why he would do such a thing.  Did someone offend him?  Did he have a bad night?  Was he just desperate for drugs or alcohol?  Or was it something more?

That night, I was volunteering along with another hospital department to serve a meal at the homeless shelter.  I was assigned to the dorm room, where I handed out sleeping bags to the people who would be spending the night, when who walks in the door... my patient.  I was incredulous.  I couldn't grasp why someone would choose a sleeping bag in a homeless shelter with a semi-warm, mildly flavorful meal on a styrofoam plate over weeks over medical attention and a warm bed.  I knew that we (a broad "we" meaning myself, my organization, and our society of educated, middle class individuals) had failed to connect with this patient in some way.  When we thought we were helping him, we somehow missed the boat.  A few weeks later I attended a medical ethics conference centered on providing "street medicine" to the specific group homeless individuals who choose not to seek out medical intervention.  I won't dwell on the specifics of the conference in this post, but I will say that the recurring theme was connecting with people in a meaningful way in order to build trust and mutual respect.

Isn't this what life is all about, after all?  Why do any of our resolutions matter unless we have someone we care about or people with whom we connect?  What is the purpose of getting healthier or expanding our knowledge base or saving money or living longer if not for our loved ones?  At the end of the day, friends and family are what matter (yes I include my cat and dog in that group).  

So for 2016, I resolve to connect with people.  This includes my patients who sometimes don't have anyone else; I resolve to find out what's important to them and who they are as people when they're not sick.  I resolve to surround myself with friends who lift each other up, and to try to do the same for others.  And I look forward to being there for my family as I watch my brother and sister both marry the loves of their lives later this year. 

2016 will be a year of connectedness, togetherness, and camaraderie.


“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”  - Herman Melville




Comments

  1. Love this! Cheers to a new year dear friend! May it bring you many blessings and happiness! You are such a beautiful soul.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks love! Cheers to hope and new beginnings this year.

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