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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Listen to the Wisdom of the living

We medical professionals have the job of sharing our wisdom. It is our job to teach our patients about their disease process, what they can do to get better, or to stay healthy once they are better. We have the job of encouraging patients to quit smoking.

Yet once the discussion moves beyond the scope of our profession, once the discussion moves on to religion, or politics, or family, or life, I have learned it is better to seek the wisdom of the other person rather than to share my own wisdom.

I learned this the hard way. I learned it through death, twice.

Two weeks ago a 92 year old man asked me about my family. I ended up sitting with him for over an hour in a great discussion. It turned out that he was a Dentist and, believe it or not, he was good friends of my childhood Dentist.

As he was talking, or mostly as I was talking, I started thinking that he was the same age that my grandparents would have been. So I asked him if he knew my grandparents. He said that he did.

Yet I had to move on. I had to check on another patient. And he made me promise I would come back. I knew I'd be back, because I had him scheduled for another treatment four hours later. I wanted to ask him what he knew of my Grandparents.

However, two hours later his breathing was labored and he called for a treatment. He passed during the treatment. I closed his eyes and prayed for him.

This past weekend I had a similar situation I wrote about here. He and I had something in common in that we both read the Bible every day and try to understand it. I wanted to ask him what his favorite Bible story was. I wanted to ask him if he met a person who didnt' believe, what chapter of the Bible he'd recommend to that person.

The discussion never got that far. It didn't because, I believe, your Humble RT spent too much time talking about his opinion. That may not have been the case, yet that's how it felt. I never got my questions in. I felt I had more to learn from the patient.

When I returned the patient passed away, once again while I was in the room. I closed his eyes and prayed. Other than pray there was nothing else I could do for him.

In a sense, I felt this way when my grandma passed away. I felt I had many questions about her and her family that will never be answered. My wife felt the same way recently after her mom and grandma passed. Questions will never be answered.

So the moral here is that we must seek the wisdom we yearn for while a person is still alive, and this will mean taking the time to ask and then to listen.



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