I have the privilege of being a doctor, I have the distinct honor of taking care of people, little (very cute) people to be precise. I don’t take this task lightly but much of what I do is run of the mill colds and flus, earaches and throat aches. I work with a population which, for the most part, is healthy and I’m happy about that. But that doesn’t mean I don’t see my share of badness. Bad things happen to good people, bad things happen to little people. There are babies and young children that live and unfortunately die in hospitals. As doctors we sometimes have to develop these hard shells to deal with it all. The shell helps us keep going, to see another patient and then go home and hug our families. A recent visit with a patient melted my shell and shook me to the core.
The patient was a newborn baby boy and he was doing just fine. His mother, on the other hand, was a young mother of 2 boys with a new diagnosis of terminal cancer. She was diagnosed only one month before giving birth to her second son– a son she may never see walk or talk. As she told me her story, she started crying and tears sprang to my eyes as well. My shell was gone and in its place was fear, anger, sadness, hope and most of all gratitude. Gratitude was my first thought as she shared her diagnosis.
I was doing a home visit and felt so fortunate that I could have the time to spend with her. I felt fortunate that she did not have to sit in a waiting room full of germs, that I didn’t have to rush her because I had a roomful of patients waiting. All I had to give her was my time and support and my prayers.
So why does it take this tremendous tragedy to make me feel gratitude? I wake up every morning (wishing I could go back to bed) checking my Facebook/Instagram and email (see previous post), thinking about my day ahead, my errands, my schedule, my kids’ schedule, who needs to be where and when and how I’m going to get them there, what am I making for dinner and whether I have time to sneak in a nap (I never do but I like to dream I do). Of all those thoughts I have first thing in the morning, none of them are thoughts of gratitude.
First I should be grateful to be awake, that I have another day to live, to dream, to be, to love. Then I could list 100 or more things I should be grateful for on a daily basis (don’t worry, I won’t). But if you are reading this then that means your list will be pretty long too!
I get so bogged down every day with mundane things and even get angry about them- why? Because I’m human, because this is my world and sometimes I need to feel the petty things and then I need to let go of the petty things. I’m working on the second part.
I told this mother that she was doing a great job. She had a beautiful healthy baby boy and she was instrumental in bringing him into this world. She said to me she is blessed to have supportive family around her. Let me repeat that, she said she is BLESSED to have supportive family. At that moment, I was in awe, in her darkest times this woman was able to see her life as blessed. I stayed for a while and answered her questions, reassured her of how wonderful of a job she was doing, and left with a heavy heart and only one thought in my head, gratitude.
This does not mean I will now forever wakeup with only thoughts of gratitude, I wish I could, but I’m human. I still get mad, sad, angry and frustrated even about the petty stuff. But I will strive everyday to live in gratitude. I will strive to always feel blessed as this courageous woman does.
This article was originally published on Red Tricycle.
Elham Raker, M.D. is a pediatrician in Los Angeles, Ca. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends. You can follow her on facebook at A Doctor Mom and A Blog and Instagram @drmomandablog