I spoke with a friend this week who felt like a stranger in a strange land. She’s recently moved to a community with almost no experience with Muslims, people from West Africa, or with those with chronic pain from a genetic disease. Every encounter presents challenges drawing on her charisma, empathy, dignity and ability to adapt and educate – sometimes during the crisis of severe pain. During my friend’s medical encounters she does not face a health literacy dilemma. She is usually more expert about her culture and her health challenges than the medical professionals she meets. She faces a life literacy dilemma. In my life as a patient and career as a clinician, I face an infinite variety of people, cultures, and situations different from my own or my comfort. I am often at a loss at how to engage this range of clinicians (as a patient) and people (as a clinician). How can we proactively prepare for so much unknown and unfamiliar? Read More
OMG, where’s my wife? I need to be rescued. I can’t do this. I can’t be here. My pounding heart, my rapid, shallow breathing. I can’t be here. Where’s my Ativan?! Have I gotten bad news, a diagnosis, felt a lump? Am I bleeding? Have I fallen? Am I a stranger in the strange land of the medical industrial complex?
No, I’m on a Blues Cruise. I want to play the blues with other amateurs. They are the amateurs that are not headliners. They have blues bands of their own and play regular gigs wherever they live. I am an old, baby amateur. I’m the only horn player at this session. I don’t know the tunes. I don’t know what key they’re playing in. I am SO way over my head. It could just as well be a gaggle of 8-year old’s trading Pokémon cards. Read More
Several times this week I heard a variation on: I’m so discouraged, I thought I was doing better. I just keep sliding back. I really suck at this. The topics: meditating every day, losing weight, managing anxiety, soloing, recovering from surgery. I heard each from more than one person. Several people said it about multiple things. One person, me, said it about losing weight and soloing. Two things strike me here. First, sucking and second sliding back. Can’t we give ourselves a break and celebrate that we’re trying? I’m trying to meditate every day, lose weight, improve my mental health, solo on my sax!!!! Yippee for me. Yippee for us!!! Recovering, healing, learning, changing habits doesn’t happen in a straight upward line, steadily better. It’s two steps forward, one step back. It’s up and down, first wildly so, then smaller cycles of up and down, over time with forward progress. Looking at just 2 data points only frustrates us, since we tend to recognize the down after the up, rather than the up after the down. In each of the scenarios someone heard the other and provided a good job, way to go, keep it up, keep me posted, call me anytime
I honor you’re work of healing, learning, recovering. Good job, way to go, keep me posted, call me anytime.
Last post of 2015. Reviewing the year in 51 blog posts, we discussed:
- Death and Dying
- Give Me My Dam Data
- Work/Life balance
- Ignorance, Uncertainty, Research
- Experience of People at the Center
- And more
I’m looking forward to the adventure of the new year: Maintaining my health, contributing to the experience of we people at the center, playing the blues, watching my grandkids grow, hearing from you.
From Mark Twain:
- All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.
Getting better – Few magic wands or silver bullets. A couple of steps forward, one back at best. It’s challenging to select when to move forward and when to wait. Does inching forward on many fronts get you better faster than moving a foot on fewer fronts? Does doing less better make sense? I play in a big band learning many charts that stretch my reading skills and dexterity. I also play in a student combo stretching my music theory and improvisation skills. I can squeak out 1 to 3 hours practice time a week. Not enough, I think, to really improve at anything. I feel so stretched I’ve stopped taking lessons. So I’m getting better too slowly for my satisfaction. On the other hand when Pablo Casals, maybe the best cellist ever, interviewed at 92 years old, he said he couldn’t talk more because he had to go practice. “Practice?” the interviewer said, “but you’re the best ever.” Casals quipped, “I’ve almost gotten it right.” I decided to stop playing in the big band and focus on the combo. I’d rather learn more music theory and improvise better. I’ll also resume the lessons. I only have so much gas in my tank. The stress of feeling overwhelmed – too many fronts – consumes fuel. Maybe doing less better with less stress burns less fuel.
The next rule is MAKE STATEMENTS. This is a positive way of saying “Don’t ask questions all the time.” If we’re in a scene and I say, “Who are you? Where are we? What are we doing here? What’s in that box?” I’m putting pressure on you to come up with all the answers.In other words: Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles. This means try stuff. Follow the advice of your team or don’t – follow your nose. But try stuff to feel better.
Yesterday I played in a recital with my jazz combo-dedicated amateurs. Musically we have greatly improved. The devil is in the arranging. Who plays when and where, in what order. Trying to get it right one player sent an email to everyone with the arrangements. We rehearsed one last time in the morning, making a few changes. He sent the revised arrangements out just before the gig. I printed and didn’t review. One tune was a complete disaster. The changes were not what we agreed to, I was the only one that printed the changes. I noticed the discrepancy in the middle of the tune and chose to play as written, not as I remembered what we agreed to. I messed everyone up, the tune fell apart. Disappointment, irritability.