The value of anything becomes apparent when it is taken away from you. Nothing profound here about one of life's central truths. It is an ongoing challenge not to take life's gifts for granted. I have never known hunger or lived without shelter. I have never been unemployed or suffered a serious illness. I pay my bills. I have 5 children who enjoy excellent health and are forging pathways toward their dreams. I love the people I work with. I have found new love in the 6th decade of life. And, I have ice cream every day of my life.
It would be shameful to have been bestowed so much and then to complain about some of life's trivialities. But, I am human.
Consider the following list of events. Has any of them ever dampened your mood, made you angry or resulted in an outburst of coarse language?
• You find yourself in a traffic jam which delays your arrival to a meeting by 20 minutes.
• Your lengthy and detailed e-mail to a client suddenly disappears.
• The concert of your favorite performer is sold out.
• You have gained 10 lbs.
• The women ahead of you in the cashier's line at the supermarket is digging around in her purse for coins.
• Your cell phone reception disappears.
• The airline informs that you may change your ticket reservation for $200.
• You have a flat tire.
• Your doctor is running an hour behind schedule, again.
• A driver cuts in front of on the road.
• A police officer issues you a ticket for speeding because you were speeding.
• Your dog has made your new Persian rug her toilet.
• Your check bounces higher than a kangaroo in heat.
A man came to my office, accompanied by his wife, for his colonoscopy. He was younger than I. I had never met him before. He was alert and in good spirits. I was pleased that I could inform them both after the procedure that his colon was in excellent health. Sadly, the health of his colon was more robust than his mind was. He had dementia and couldn't recall that he was taking prescription medicines. How sad and unfair that he and his family were losing a gift. After my day was over and I was driving home, how important would a traffic jam really be?
When I am headed out to see a patient in the emergency room at an ungodly hour, I remind myself that the patient has it worse than I. He's the sick person and I will be returning home to sleep in my own bed.
I want to be more grateful and appreciate for all that I have, but I am flawed human specimen. The struggle continues.
This post by Michael Kirsch, MD, FACP, appeared at MD Whistleblower. Dr. Kirsch is a full time practicing physician and writer who addresses the joys and challenges of medical practice, including controversies in the doctor-patient relationship, medical ethics and measuring medical quality. When he's not writing, he's performing colonoscopies.