Thursday, December 14, 2006

A holiday gift

I am posting an email sent by one of our doctors to his colleagues in our Ob/Gyn department this past week. (He said it would be all right.) I think it is beautifully written. 'nuf said:

Subject: Holiday Greeting

As we get closer to the beginning of the December holidays, I want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season. I also want to take the opportunity to relay to everyone a personal experience that I recently had and how it helped me have a new perspective on my role as an Ob/Gyn. I hope not to offend anyone by what they may see as an inappropriate use of this e-mail forum, or may see this as a bit self indulgent. If you do, I take no offense, and feel free to click the delete button and move to your next e-mail. If you wish to read, continue on.

Some of you know that I attended a wedding this past weekend. Now, we have all been to weddings, some of us can even remember our own wedding. This one had the usual trimmings of outlandish outfits and outlandish behavior. And of course, it had the usual consumption of various types and quantities of libations. However, the wedding stands out as something special because of the emotional issues that the bride and groom brought together under the wedding canopy. The bride was widowed on 9/11. Her husband had been a passenger on one of the flights that was crashed into the Twin Towers. At the time, she was pregnant with her third child, and delivered that child the following spring here at BIDMC. Every time I have been in the presence of this women I have been truly amazed at how she has dealt with this incomprehensible tragic loss, and how since 9/11 she has created a warm and loving environment for her children. What she has done with her life since this loss goes beyond inspirational (see, but what she did this weekend is the ultimate goal a person can have when dealt with such a loss as hers. She and her new husband have brought love, happiness, and the thirst to enjoy life into her soul once again. I would imagine this would be my most difficult accomplishment if faced with a tragedy such as hers. At the wedding she talked openly about her loss, as well as her rediscovered love, and I feel blessed that I was able to be a witness to such a beautiful moment.

I thought about my own little meaningless personal battles that I have every day, and the battles we all face both in our professional and personal lives. The struggle to balance family and career, and trying to find ways to pay the bills. In our professional and personal lives, we all deal with loss on a daily basis- infertility, miscarriage, recurrent miscarriage, still births, birth defects, cancer, and the list goes on. We face many obstacles in our goal to keep a positive attitude -- angry patients, ungrateful patients, emotionally unstable patients, anxious patients, pissed off colleagues, depressed colleagues. It becomes too easy for us to become a scientist to our patients and not health care providers, keeping us emotional detached from ourselves as well as the needs of our patients.

But for some reason, we have chosen this profession, or maybe let the profession chose us. And this profession gives us a tremendous gift. The gift to give something of ourselves to other people. Each day we are given at least one moment to realize how lucky this gift is. Sometimes it is obvious such as when we get a good baby after a month in the hospital on bedrest, or sometimes small such as when a colleague or patient says a simple thank you. We have been given the gift of being able to help people through some of their most difficult, frightening, and tragic moments. We help them with our skills, our insight, and our kindness. And then we are given the bonus gift of being able to witness one their most joyous moments, the birth of their children. I have an opportunity each day to recognize the value I add to other peoples lives, and if I can recognize that value it can help me get through the rest of the crap I face on a daily basis. I can fill part of my soul with the joy people feel when I help them, and then incorporate that joy into my interactions with the world around me.

And so this is the gift I give to myself this holiday season. The gift to continue to enjoy the profession I have chosen for my life, and how valuable it is to those around me as well as to myself.

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