Thanksgiving is one of my very favorite holidays. It may be true that the story didn’t go down exactly as we were taught in our childhood, but I’ll take any excuse to gather my entire family in one place, and enjoy some delicious fall favorites (sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie–come to Mama), surrounded by loved ones and autumn colors.
This year, as I find the holiday quickly approaching, I’m noticing a number of stressors in my life. I’m finding it easy to get wrapped up in the whirlwind my life has felt like recently. My mind is becoming saturated with panic as I think about the case study I have due, the travel plans I have yet to finalize, and what I feel is a pretty unreasonable amount of personal issues I’ve been faced with over the past month.
But today I had a truly awakening experience while speaking to a patient who is over 60 years my senior. The conversation started as most of mine in the hospital do–wanting to check in on appetite, diet at home, and so on. As my preceptor and I had literally stepped one foot each out the door at the end of our interview, the patient said something funny that made her chuckle. Her stretched out smile, without any warning, transitioned into a somber lowering of the eyes, and then slowly turned to tears and sobbing. We sat back down, and asked her what was happening for her. She started to tell us about how sad she was in ending up where she was, with health problems she’d never dreamed would be hers.
She portrayed the decline of her health as a loss, “like losing a child,” she said, “it’s gone, and I’ll never see it again–I’ll never get it back.”
Choking back my tears, I stood back as my preceptor held the patient’s hand, comforting her until her smile returned.
I certainly don’t know where I stand on my belief in God and the ways of the Universe (I’m still working it all out). But today, I feel some force was on my side in placing this woman, and the lessons she had to learn in front of me.
Today, I can be thankful for my health. There may be many things in my life that are imperfect. But I can stand, and walk, and even run if I want to. I can make myself dinner, and can drive myself to work. I am self-sufficient, and it wasn’t until this afternoon that I learned what an incredibly beautiful and special thing that is.
So, what can you be grateful for today?