The Pursuit of (Past) Happiness
In the field of medicine, the spotlight is often on the information the doctor gives the patient. I find that while I try to advise people in the clinic based on with the knowledge I’ve gained, often I walk away from a patient encounter feeling like I am the one who was taught a lesson (that’s why this blog exists). The other week in the office, for instance, a mother told me that she was getting her 4-year old daughter a pink stethoscope for Christmas. When I asked why she was getting that gift, the mother told me: “At her 3 year old physical, she had her Care Bear with her and you took the Care Bear, asked what the Bear’s name was, and then proceeded to give the Care Bear a full physical checkup.” After that doctor’s visit, the little girl went around telling everyone that her doctor checked Sophie (her bear… the bear’s name was changed due to HIPAA regulations), and that she was going to be a doctor when she grew up. My Care Bear exam obviously had a much more profound impact than I could ever imagine. In my mind I wasn’t examining the bear in order to inspire future pediatricians, in fact I was just trying to have a child not hate me.
Kids have this magic that exists in their brain that we adults lose over time because the truth is, life is hard. Even though this blog often focuses about what is positive in medicine, the truth is that practicing medicine is a grind. There are many days where I leave work, and wonder how I will muster up energy for the rest of life. The older we get, the world we perceive changes from miraculous to blemished.
To a child things are different. Children sometimes celebrate getting a sticker in my office the same way an adult celebrates watching his or her team win the Superbowl. They jump up and down, yell things no one understands, and once in a while wreck things along the way. This is much like San Francisco, when the Giants win the World Series. Children have at least a few Superbowl-worthy celebrations in a SINGLE DAY. It is amazing to see that joy, and quite frankly, it is inspiring.
Today my father was babysitting my 3-year old nephew, and he asked him what he wanted to say to his dad who was visiting New York. My nephew responded: “Baba, are you coming? Because look, I buying you a…I dunno…look, look….beep beep.. boop.” I have no idea what he was talking about, but he said it all with the widest grin on his face as if he was reciting Shakespeare. I could never get away with this as an adult. If I saw a patient with an ear infection, I couldn’t ramble: “Well…it looks like inside the ear, there’s a…I dunno… look, look…beep beep… boop.” And, I most certainly could not say it and be happy about it.Witnessing the exuberance of a child in an ordinary moment in this flawed world is such an amazing reminder. There are tiny candles of happiness found all around us in an otherwise dim room. We must remember to revel in their light. So the next time you see me celebrating a Chargers victory like a child, you might think it a bit immature, but give me a break. San Diego will never actually win the big game, so I might as well celebrate like they have. The child in me would approve.
I can see them every night
Really not that far away
I could be there in a day- The National “Hard to find”