Those two words were uttered to me after I had completed bilateral knee steroid injections on a patient at the downtown Waco Family Health Center. It is a place where I spend a few days per week helping those that might not otherwise get any medical care. No one gets turned away. Some have insurance, others have a county health card that helps them qualify for certain services, and others have NOTHING. I have the opportunity to help with few strings attached. While I may not be able to get someone an MRI or other services that are usually paid for by insurance plans, I can often make a difference in their health in at least one small way. Whether I need to place a cast on a fracture, provide basic education on the effects of smoking, inject some medicine to relieve a painful joint, or provide them with a few exercises and some rubber tubing to help with an ailing rotator cuff, I get the chance to give them just a little more hope.
On this one particular day it was a somewhat busy morning, and “she” would be my last patient before heading to my other clinic — a vastly different environment where many patrons have the ability to pay cash for services like Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) and stem cell injections. She had been sent to me thanks to longstanding osteoarthritis of her knees. She used a walker for years. Her knees ached all day long, each and every day. She had abused narcotics. She had been addicted to illicit drugs and alcohol, and she had several other chronic medical problems. She wanted me to perform some magic. She needed something in her life to be better that day.
Without stating it bluntly, she was looking for a bright light to enter her Process. I gave her my memorized mantra for steroid injections bringing to life both the “possible” benefits and the proven side effects. She acknowledged and desired to proceed. So we did. No complications.
The procedure was done so quickly that she asked me if I had even started. And then she said, “Thanks doc. I hope you have a nice day.” I replied with a simple, “I will try.”
The glare I received after uttering those three words is something I will never forget.
It was as if both the devil and God were staring at me at the same time. It was as if they were both seated at my table. The patient then said, “There is no try. You must Claim It! You need to claim the day. Don’t try to have a good day.” She proceeded to get a little angry. She continued to dig into my feelings about having “faith.” She kept telling me that I needed to claim each day from the moment I awoke.
And her words woke me up. They transcended social barriers.
I was reminded that the doctor often learns more from his patient’s than he often teaches them.
I challenge you to take a step back today. Listen closely. Open your eyes just a little wider and see what you can learn that you thought you already knew.