Today's big excitement was a trip to the Salvation Army to find a costume for Ellie for Music Man, Jr. There were several contenders, but ultimately we chose a dark floral printed woven fabric dress with a mid calf length swishy skirt and a collar. It is really nice looking and I can imagine Ellie wearing it after the play at some point in the future when we won't have to safety pin a third of the bodice fabric away. The nearest Salvation Army is in Portsmouth and the parking lot was packed. They only had three dressing rooms and it was very funny to watch person after person walk past the line and look at each of the closed doors, turn to the first person in line and say, "O! you're in line." I was treated to a few extra iterations of this because Ellie is too old to go into the dressing room with company so I waited outside. A surprising thing is they had probably several hundred sleeveless dresses, but only maybe fifty ones with sleeves. They also had about a dozen wedding dresses. I wish I had known this when Ellie was littler and totally enthralled by weddings. For the longest time she called brides "the wedding girl" and it was always a thrill for her to go by the PEA chapel when the wedding party was outside getting their photos taken.
Other excitement for today was working. I told one of my co-workers that it is starting to feel like old times which is very nice. It almost doesn't feel like a rare thing that I am spending time with patients and families.
After reading yesterday's post, Tommie told me that she worked with some one who said the question providers should be asking patients is "what is it like for you?" His contention is that we ask people how are we doing? rather than how are they doing. I realized that at least sometimes this is true for me. I saw one patient today who really what I was interested in knowing about them was "how is my plan, my interventions for your symptoms working?" Otherwise known as "am I doing a good job? a.k.a. how am I doing?" The question was "is my med concoction working to make your life acceptable for you?" not "is your life acceptable?" or "what is your life like?" Food for thought for me. When I was in the hospital, I did feel that people were asking about me and what it was like for me mostly. I didn't have a whole lot of symptom management issues and no one needed me to see how their poisons were working on my marrow; the computer was the one who knew the answer to that question with my daily labs. One more thought on the what's it like for you question. When I have talked with staff about a particular patient or family member that is more than average difficult, I have noticed that pointing out that "it must be hard to be him" is a statement that is likely to generate empathy for the difficult person. It works for me too when I am having a tough time with another person to remind myself that it must be hard to be them. Sometimes I remind myself that it is hard to be me if I feel that I am not being sympathetic enough to myself.
For me, for tomorrow, I will wish for the presence, the energy to be able to consider what it is like for you? in all my interactions. For you, for tomorrow, I will wish for whatever your answer to "what would improve the answer to 'how is it for you?' " the most.