Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ah, blessed humility

Once I met a patient and family who were just arriving at the facility. The patient was a bit older and wore glasses, as do I. The whole family was pretty stressed out--electing hospice care is not a milestone any family looks forward to or takes lightly--so I asked if there was anything they might like: coffee, tea, some ice water. The patient asked for coffee. I asked about cream and sugar but heard no answer. So I brought a cup of black coffee; the patient took a sip and bellowed, "How come you didn't put sugar in my coffee?" At this point I realized the patient had trouble hearing, and I was really embarrassed. No point in attempting to disguise the obvious, so I bellowed back, "I guess because I am DUMB. How many sugars would you like?" Patient answered, I went and got the sugar, and a spoon, and a napkin, and brought it back with an apology. Now, I wear my hair cut very short--my hair doesn't hold a curl well at all and, if left long, clings flat to my head in a most unappealing manner, so a very short cut is the most practical thing I can do. Our patient added the sugar to the coffee, took another sip, was far more satisfied, and looked up at me and said, "Well, I think you're a nice fella anyway."


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