Thursday, October 24, 2013

Just you and I.

My colleague, Stacie S., caught spending time one on one with her patient.

"Just you and I--we can trust each other."

~ Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle


It was mostly logistical that I saw him alone at first. Me having to be in one place while he was in another. Or him off the floor in a test when I came by with the whole team in tow on rounds. And, for whatever reason, that's how it ended up being for the first few days he was on my hospital service. So much of our initial bond was forged one on one.

It was a prolonged hospital stay, so I saw him a lot. And though those initial days were just one-on-one, on most of the others I was able to see him with the team. That said, even when there weren't updates or he was just waiting around for results, I always found myself returning to his room for another encounter with just the two of us.

He was a Grady elder so I knew that this was part of it. Some kind of magnetic pull always lulls me in their direction but his even more. I liked his smile and the fuzzy grey beard that he had growing in since he wasn't keen on hospital razors. I loved his laugh and his wisdom. I soaked it all up every afternoon like a sponge.

"I never was big on crowds," he said to me the other day.

"Sir?" I replied.

"Groups. You know, a whole lot of folks talking all at once. Especially about personal things. I bet you it's a lot of patients that feel like that."

I paused for a few moments and thought about that. I was sitting beside his bed in a chair. Nothing was really going on so I was leaned back with my arms folded. It was comfortable, familiar, unhurried. I squinted one eye which let him know I needed more information.

"When y'all march in here with all them people -- 'specially at the beginning -- it's kind of nerve-wracking. I did like your style, though. You held my hand. You looked right at me and talked to me like we was old friends."


"But then you always came on back by yourself. That's when I felt more comfortable telling you stuff. And asking my questions and getting things off my chest, you know?"

"Yes, sir."

"I jest like that you come back. I hope you do that for a lot of folks. 'Specially the really sick ones like me. We need somebody that come on back and pull up a chair. Even when it ain't bad news, you know? Jest pull up a chair and sit down and say, 'How you doin'? What you know good?'" And we both chuckled when he said that last part because it had become a part of my daily greeting.

"That's a good word, sir."

"Yeah. That's my advice for you to give to them young doctors you got traipsin' in behind you. Tell 'em to come on back by theyself. To sit on down in a chair and relax. Even if they do it for only a few minutes. It make a whole lot of difference. You get way more from your patient like that."

I nodded hard and let him know I was getting it. Hearing it and getting it and feeling it, too.

"Can I admit that at the beginning, I saw you alone because I think I was kind of busy? And came back to get more details since I couldn't get them all on rounds? I just don't want you thinking I got all this figured out." I laughed at myself softly.

"You got something figured out, Miss Manning. You a people person. That I knew from the first day. And people persons just sort of know. They pays attention and they ask you about things like how many brothers and sisters you got or whether or not you think okra taste good in collards or not." He smiled when he said that. "That don't got nothin' to do with why I'm here. But I tell you it's the reason I agreed to a lot of stuff. I feel like a got me a friend in this hospital. So even if you didn't mean to, you made me feel special."

"You've made me feel the same."

"So I say just do that on purpose. Go on and doubleback and see about your patients one-on-one without no crowd. 'Cause a lot of folks don't like a crowd. And people like me like when the doctor with the most experience come on in and have a seat. Look to me like the whole operation is good when that happen."

"Does that happen much?"

"No, it don't. That's why I'm telling you this."

I nodded once more. Then I stuck it on a mental post it note for later. I sure did.

And that was the gist of that visit. The exam wasn't dramatically different from the day before. But the new resolve this wise elder had just given me changed my outlook and provided me with a new way to be even more intentional about my patient interactions.

And this? This, my friends, is Grady. The Grady Memorial Hospital that doesn't make the news channels. . . .but should.


Happy Day after Zachary's Birthday.

A little old school country and western for your listening pleasure. Hear this in a non-intimate way. . . . .because that's what's been playing on my mental iPod ever since that day. Y'all don't know nothin' 'bout Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal "Crazy Rapunzel Hair-Lady" Gayle. Ha ha ha.


  1. This right here ... is some good stuff. I love you, Dr. Manning. I love how you share and how you give and how you teach. I just love you. You are dang good!!! Have a wonderful Friday Eve!!!

    Your Delta Friend,
    Angela Fairwell

  2. What a gem of a man and learning experience for you.

  3. that's a wise man. thank you for sharing this experience with me (sometimes I forget you're not writting this for me alone). Thank you, Dr. Manning.

  4. This is why I love this here blog. Simply beautiful. Your patients are blessed to have you and you are blessed to have them. Oh the things we can learn if we just listen !


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

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