I went on the radio on Friday evening and on Monday patients were lined up outside the door long before we opened. Word got out…we had free medications and supplies. Patient after patient and before we realized it, we saw 62 patients in one day from 10:30am to 5pm. The adrenaline that comes with taking care of people fueled me.
He walked in. Broken. I could tell by his posture and his eyes. He was broken. He was brought in by someone who I had taken care time some time ago. They told him, “you need to go see my doctor. She will help you.” As he started talking, it became apparent that Irma had not only caused a physical upheaval but an emotional torrent as well. His partner for decades left. As the storm moved on from our island, so did his partner from his life leaving behind rubble. His house ravished by the storm and he was now homeless. And even in his broken state, he still found the strength to give back to those who like himself were broken by the storm. As I listened to his story, I jumped into action. I started putting together a bag of goodies, shirts, clothes, toiletries. I brought the bag into him. I could tell that his pride was tender but I let him know that it was indeed ok. There is nothing wrong with accepting help when you are down. I tended to the medical reason he was there…and then I broke. Since Irma, my tears have taken on their own navigation system and as much as I try to regulate them, they betray me every time. We all cried. I have learned to not stop the tears because I cannot, plus we all needed a good cry that day. I hugged him and watched as he walked out with his shoulders lifted just a little higher. Even though he makes his place of abode the park bench, he left knowing that at least in our office, his dignity remains intact.
With every beat it gives life, it sends oxygen that circulates to organs that most need it. The heart is amazing and that is why everything we do should be heart generated. IN so doing, it gives and brings life. When I decided to go back to medical school after 9 years of being out of academia, it was a scary thing. I left a “real job” with a real paycheck in order to become a student with student level pay. Some may think that this was a nutso move but I was not called to a REAL JOB, I was called to destiny as a healer. It takes courage to stop and re-evaluate and make a shift. It is not comfortable but were we created for comfort? Furthermore, it was a temporary discomfort anyhow.
My journey in becoming a physician and a board certified one was NOT easy, there were many tears, many fears, many sacrifices. If I did not have a clear vision of what I was called to do and know within my heart of hearts that this was the road to go down, then I would have folded. I would have quit. I would have settled. But with the vision manuscript in my hand, I wielded it like a sword; I cut through fear and doubt, and disappointment. You have to be sure of what you are called to do because, with this confidence, you move over boulders and use them as stepping stones rather than obstacles.
So search your heart, have a heart to heart with yourself. Listen. What do you hear? What do you dream of doing? What have you always loved? What do you do that you would do gratis? What gives you great joy? Spend some time reconnecting with yourself. When you get the answer, then jump right into it. Don’t let your fear and self-doubt talk you out of flowing from the heart.
She came in with shoulders hunched over. He was cheating on her. Again. 25 years. Same behavior.
Me: What are you going to do about it?
She shrugged her shoulders: Dunno
Me: Well are you happy with this situation?
Me: Then change it
And therein lies the dilemma. How do you take a situation where you are undervalued and abused and turn it around? How do you change that trajectory? Change has to start with some of these steps:
- Take Inventory: We need to locate ourselves in order to change the trajectory. If you don’t see a problem, then there is no solving it. Locate and admit that there is a problem. As best as you can, outline the problem. Own your part of it. Determine if the situation is serving you. If it’s not. Abort.
- Recognize your own value: It is sometimes hard for us to see just how awesome we are. I often wonder what lens we look through when we see ourselves. I find it difficult to focus and see things through scratched or deformed lens. Taking time to reflect on how we came to the conclusions we did about ourselves is a worthwhile activity. We do not have to accept everything that is offered to us. Recognizing and learning our value helps us reject offers that are cheap. Get a pen and paper and start writing, don’t censor your thoughts just focus on the awesome. Write. Write a new reality. Change your mind, change your life…truly.
- Change your self talk: What are you saying to yourself? Are you defeating yourself before giving yourself a fair chance? Would you be yourself’s best friend based on how you talk to yourself? As a man or woman thinks so is he or she….so yes your self talk is absolutely important. You become what you behold, so your talk to yourself has creative power. We manifest that we digest so please change your soliloquy.
- Change your circle: If we are in partnership or relationship with people who are not able to recognize our value, it is best to get away. Why? Try going on I94W while the person you are yolked with is going I94E. You will in fact get no place. The tension of dissonance will pull you away from your purpose. It stagnates. People project their own self worth on you and if within your circle there are those who don’t value themselves, guess what? They likely don’t value you either. Change circles. Associate with people who lift you up, build you up and honor the awesome in you. Be a person who lifts and builds others.
- Be brave: Walking away from the familiar takes courage but the freedom felt once the chains have loosened is invigorating. Sometimes we just have to jump and trust the parachute to open. We have to trust that we will land in a better place. No discoveries are made by the coward of heart.
The relationships that must change are our relationship with ourselves, life and God. If we truly know who we are in Christ, we would know that He thinks highly of us, that to accept anything other than His best for us is pride. Relationships with the world around us, our job, friends, partners, these relationships should also reflect God’s best for us. We settle too often and for too little. Take the step to elevate your relationship with God, yourself and thus your auxiliary relationships.
Months later, I heard she moved away. She had enough. The work we did finally paid off. She was able to see her value and thus rejected a value-negating relationship from a love stealer. Whether a person or a job, make a decision to go where you are appreciated, not tolerated or denigrated.
February 9th 2015:
So you all remember the produce vendor who disliked doctors for “taking her money” and then wanted me to help her lose her baby fat from her baby 30 yrs ago?! Well bounced up on Babyfat again as I stopped to pick up some produce for my delish meal.
Babyfat: Hey doc
Me: Sup lil mama? Yuh good?
Babyfat: I good Me: Are you working on that tummy?
Babyfat grabs a hold of it and laughing says: Its a baby
Me: oh really…ooookkkaaaay
.She invites me..yet again to touch her stomach
Babyfat laughing: Yes I having ah baby LOL. It like ah barrel
Me: Oh boy…well do. you. want. to. have. a. baby? Ah yes, its very firm indeed…lol
Babyfat: He is 30 yrs old
Me: Oh the “baby” that was born 30yrs ago is still hanging on to you huh? Yuh need tuh give birth now man.
Babyfat: I going and do Zumba
Babyfat interrupts and starts demonstrating her Zumba moves
Me: Waaaay sah! Ay Ay! Doh hurt yuhself! Oh yuh doing it here?!! SMH…right there at the side of the road..and what do I do??!! Join her LOL!
Yes at the side of the busy street at dusk Dr. Williams and BabyFat “zumbaing” to the sound of soca..
Aaaahhhh Zumunda sways to the sound of Soca. And another pound is lost.
It is hard to believe that it is already 2014. One more day and we are there. What really happened in 2013? Is it really that big of a deal this whole New Year thing? It’s just a matter of a concept of time.
This was a year that I realized some dreams I had. In 2012, I spent time thinking of “intentions”, I thought it was a better word than say “resolutions”. I wrote them down, prayed about them and made declarations throughout 2013. I felt very accomplished this year and as my friends pointed out, very brave. I never see myself as brave but when I look back at some of the things I have done and accomplished, I have to say it was indeed brave. It is helpful to have perspective and time provides just this. We are better than we give ourselves credit for. I made it through a horrible divorce in 2012 and in 2013, I was so much happier; pleased with my decision to stand up for myself. I worked on forgiveness and released anger. Embraced and hugged myself because this woman is a strong honest one. I acknowledged that i chose to love someone as undeserving as he may have been but my love was honest. I was proud of myself for maintaining integrity. I ventured to allow myself to once again entertain the prospect of a new relationship. It was a wild whirlwind of emotions but safe and fun.
As I peek into 2014, a part of me wants to be even more daring. I want to “jump” as my friend Brian says. What do I have to lose? Fear is one thing that will dissipate once I make that jump. This last two weeks have given me much time to think about my life and relax. I realize that my job can be stressful but I have learned to leave that stress where it belongs and not bring it into my home. I was kinder to myself this year and this trend will continue. It is okay to allow myself some slack to just sit around and do nothing. There is nothing inherently wrong with this at all. My days off do not have to be filled with all the things I “think” I “need and should” get done. So while I jump in 2014, I will be sure to do so without a whole entourage of garbage and baggage and books that I think I should read. Happy New Year everyone. Make it a memorable one.
There are two things that are certain in life. Death and life. We prepare for birth for the most part but so often we ignore death, run away from it as though it will never catch up. Death is inevitable and so I think it is vital that we embrace it insomuch as we talk asbout it, prepare for it. Even among Christians who should know that there is life after death and for them at least, eternal life, there is still this fear of death. Fear to the point that we rebuke, blame it on the devil etc. I am not ignorant of the emotional effect of losing a loved one or someone dear to you but I think we can ease the blow of death by facing it head on and preparing as such..
I had this patient who was quite elderly, the first day I was on service I knew that we needed to talk about hospice and code status. I met with her MPOAs and questioned them about what they knew about her condition. As it is in most situations, they had some very unrealistic expectations. They did acknowledge however that she did not want any heroic measures and actually wanted to be a do not resuscitate or DNR. As the day continued, I put a bit of pressure on the MPOAs to follow their loved ones wishes.They finally decided to move her to hospice. The next day, I realized that she may not make it to hospice before she left this earth. Sure enough, I got a call from the staff that she was actively dying. I went to the bedside. Called the family. They never came. But we never left her side. Myself and the staff stayed at her bedside, holding her hands,rubbing her feet and me singing to her as she gracefully left. It was such a beautiful special moment, we cried but rejoiced because this lady had lived a full life.
I have asked myself many times why physicians shy away from talking about death and dying? We know the science, we understand the anatomy,maybe it is the spirituality that we are afraid of? I am not sure but I think that we need to get in the business of preparing our patients for life’s inevitable. The times that I have taken to educate my families about death and dying has been time well spent because they were able to appropriate their time with their loved ones. Let’s take the step to have the conversation.