Monday, November 28, 2011

Taking a load off.

I saw a fellow Grady friend today and we greeted each other like normal. Passing through the hall way, going about our normal every day. Quick small talk. How was Turkey Day? Obligatory pause for expected response: Good and yours? Mouth moving saying "fine" before I could even think about what it was like. Fine. Kind of like saying "muy bien, y tu?" when you don't speak Spanish and someone says "como estas usted?"

Yeah. Fine.

No big deal, though, because it was fine. More than fine, it was great so I added that on, too. So we passed each other and that was that, but then someone asked a question about some mundane thing and I can't really even remember who did. But what I do know is that the second exchange slowed me down enough to see something I hadn't noticed before. Couldn't put my finger on it. A heaviness was there. . . . something hard to explain. 

First thought was to ask. "You okay?" But I didn't because I figured the "yeah, I'm fine" would be just like that "muy bien, y tu?"  Instead I just made more small talk, looking to see if I could figure it out but I couldn't. This was a good friend. But a stoic one. Decided to back off.

But that heavy was there. No. It wasn't in my head.

Oh well.

I got back to my own hustle bustle and went about my business. Much to do, much I've procrastinated on so I'd put it on a post it note in my head for later. Back to work. Eventually allowed myself to forget about that heavy altogether with all my own busy.  But then I ran into my friend again. And there it still was. That heavy.  

But still I waited because sometimes heavy is private. And even when concern is well-meaning it's better to let it wash up like placid waves instead of crashing like surf.  So that's what I did. Waited.

Small talk was where it started. Laughed about this and that and chatted about that and the other. And somewhere in it all, it came out. Just like that the heaviness was explained.

"I'm sorry," I said. "It looked like you were flying on one wing."

"Yeah. . . ."

That was it.  That was all. No dramatic hugs or tears or melodrama. Just a listening ear and a little bit of trust found in an unexpected place. At work.

Imagine that.

You know. . . at Grady we give so much of ourselves to our patients, our learners, and our careers. But each of us is human and connected to lives that extend beyond the walls of the hospital. Today I was reminded of one of my favorite things about working here--these really deep and genuine friendships that I've forged over the years.  A place to put your heavy down and know it's safe.

I've had my heavy on some days and I was so glad to have one of several people see it and feel it and know it. Sometimes that heavy is 100% patient-care related. But many times it isn't at all. And this time was one of those times.

So the placid waves rolled up and the heavy washed away just a little. And that was good.

Every job isn't like this.  But thankfully this one is.

And this? This, too, is Grady.


Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . Donny Hathaway's haunting voice does this the most justice. Please. . .listen to this and be moved deep in your soul.


  1. This is why you are a good doctor. You realize that there is a holistic coming together of all systems which affect the whole being, whether that is a patient or a co-worker, or the entire Kingdom of Grady.

  2. Funny how these posts can just poke at ya when you need it. We have some "grief" going on with one person our little group, and it's messing up the nice cohesive vibe we all came to love about our jobs. Finding it difficult to say "what's the problem," and hoping it just goes away...come visit me for some comfort food talk...


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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