So we got to go see family for the holiday, which was a lot of fun; and a whole lot of driving - but worth it. I got spoiled by m'lady - and spoiled her a bit, too. We got each other snowshoes (and had a bit of fun using them already, too), I got her a serger (thanks rarely!) and I got new music (box sets rule!). Best of all, we got to spend time during and around the holiday with many of the people we love most. Thank you, my friends and the family I've chosen, for making our holidays wonderful.
One of those inspired no small amount of introspection during the turning of the year. We'll call him "B", a local musician, whom I knew only peripherally prior to last year. Last year, however, he became very ill, and spent a considerable amount of time in my ICU. (I’m telling no unknown tales here: those who know, already know and the rest aren’t likely to ever meet him and make the connection.) I avoided taking him as a patient for a while, because of the number of people I know who both knew him and where he was receiving care, simply to avoid questions. Oh, I was in the room helping his primary care people, but I didn’t actually take care of him for the first week or so; after that he became one of my ‘regulars’, and I was pleasantly surprised by how many people didn’t ask me about him. As he recovered, kirvin3 was involved as his Physical Therapist (twice, due to unfortunate set-backs), and we both became better acquainted with both “B” and his wife.
We had, just before Christmas, the singular joy of watching this new friend play his first solo set since his illness at a local Irish Pub. After his night ended (and last call was given) I had a chance to talk to him for a while. I had a chance to tell him how great it was to see him doing what the loves again, and I actually found it hard to articulate how much it meant to me to be a part of that, other than to say “It makes me realize that what I do matters.” Which sounded pretty stupid to me, even at that moment.
Fast forward to Christmas day – I’m in church (yeah, it surprised me, too …the things I do for my family!). The sermon was about Christmas, and how Christmas wasn’t peace, or love or presents under the tree: it was about Hope. And it hit me; that’s what it was, when I watched “B” playing his sets that night. It was the hope represented there. Most of my patients end up in extended care facilities, long-term rehab centers, or the morgue. It’s the nature of what I do – I specialize in extremely critical patients, and few have happy endings to their stories. The few who do, usually we never see again (and I can’t blame them, who wants to remember their close calls?). But I wouldn’t have said that it gets me down; it’s just part of the territory, it’s the nature of the beast. I couldn’t have guessed how much it might mean to me to be able to see somebody who came so close to the edge return to a normal life. Thanks “B”. You gave me a nice Christmas present there. I appreciate the reminder that even in the worst moments ‘back to a normal life’ is only a short distance away.
Who knew that an Irish story could have a happy ending?