Do We Allow our Lives to Be Limited by Our Comfort Zones?

It’s been a long time…I have been thinking…

Contemplating the idea of our “comfort zones”. My comfort zone…A patient’s comfort zone…And what role a physician should play in discussing “a life well-lived”.

“Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” James 4:14 NLT

One of my patient’s came to me, recently having been discharged from the hospital, wife in tow…I really enjoyed talking with them both, but today was different.

He was distressed. His vast array of medical problems had gotten much worse and were unlikely to improve significantly.  But he had these tickets for a once in a lifetime trip…a cruise around the Greek Isles…

Before I had a chance to talk with him, I could hear staff discussing the fact that he would never be able to take that cruise…he was just too sick. Apparently, he had a similar response from the team who took care of him in the hospital…

I sat down to talk with him and his wife joined the conversation…I learned about his hospital experience, his declining health, and finally the trip…he hung his head after telling me about the trip he had planned.

It was one of those moments where you silently pray for God to put the right words in your mouth…I called him by name and he looked up at me with tears in his eyes…I said simply “you and your wife are going to make that trip”.

In that instant it became apparent to both of us that it would be their last. And it was…but they made wonderful memories on that trip…

Cheers GS to “a life well-lived”…should I have the occasion tonight I will drink “The Parting Glass” in honor of you and how you chose to live…

A little known secret that physicians rarely reveal is that we learn more from our patients than they ever learn from us…

That brings me back to my months of pondering…my comfort zone became very small St. Patrick’s Day 2015. That day could have been just an ordinary day…but it crushed me like a soda can. 

“But something touched me deep inside. The day the music died”. American Pie, Don McLean

It was the day I was publicly humiliated both personally and professionally….a day that will forever remain in my memory and in those of my family including my 9-yr-old and 6-yr-old.

The event shrunk my comfort zone initially to the four walls of my bedroom…

My foray last Fall into Ethiopia was as much for myself as it was for the Ethiopian people. It was in fact my version of the book “WILD” by Cheryl Strayed (minus the drugs)…The trip had a unique descriptor: 2 women, 2 weeks, hiking 200 miles to make a difference in the lives of a people…

On St. Patrick’s Day, I thought my life was over…

After traveling to Ethiopia, I realized it was just beginning…

I am not convinced that my time will end in “a life well-lived”, but I have been true to myself…

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows, If I fail, if I succeed, At least I’ll live as I believe, No matter what they take from me, They can’t take away my dignity…..Learning to love yourself, It is the greatest love of all”….Greatest Love of All, Whitney Houston

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“May you find God’s grace in every day.”

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