Day 5 of Lent, Day 5 of the 365 Project, “Chronological snobbery”?

The interesting connection between Lent and the 365 Project is that one leads to the other. One of my Lenten goals was to try to really live IN every day instead of just work in every day. This isn’t to say that working should stop, but rather that it does not preclude having a life’s moment (non-textbook moment) every single day. It is maintaining perspective (and therefore sanity). Stopping to take a picture (or find an appropriate picture) every day has helped me accomplish this. It also forces a little bit of reflection and perspective on the day; what was the most important part of the day, etc.

One of my clinical goals for this week was to treat each patient as if they were a family member; explain things as completely and clearly as I would to my sister or brothers. This really helped, and the patients seemed to appreciate it. I always have lingering questions when I leave the doctor’s office so I decided that my goal would be to have my patients leave without lingering questions as often as possible. Obviously once I’m officially practicing, I won’t be able to do this all the time, but it’s a good goal to start out with and to shape practice with.

All of this “trying to be better” and “we’re getting better” in healthcare is what C.S. Lewis might refer to as “chronological snobbery”. We assume that obviously, as time passes and we invent more things (there is now a website that tells me what people have tweeted and when, but it’s NOT Twitter…it’s a secondary Twitter? I’m confused), we are “getting better”. In medicine, the more detailed the assessment tools we use, the “better” the outcome…(?)  Well, perhaps not. Perhaps purity and listening are better than assessing. Listen first, assess (diagnose, decide, talk, move…whatever your verb is in whatever situation) second. A wiser friend said to me, “I have you for thirty seconds, and then I’ve lost you. You need to listen.” This hit me pretty hard, but he is right. You can’t take your medical assessment attitude to your interpersonal relationships. Maybe I’m in the habit of listening briefly and then diagnosing (or insert whatever verb), but, maybe all of us (at least I) could benefit from more time just listening and less time assuming we know what the person/patient/friend is going to say. Chronological snobbery was meant to address peoples’ feelings of superiority over past generations, but I think it could also be applied to a sense of being “seasoned” in the art of conversation and losing the two ears with which we are blessed and focusing too much on the one mouth. People feel like they “know” already….but we don’t know. I sound like my second grade teacher (interestingly enough I basically never, ever talked during classes, so maybe I took her  “two ears one mouth” line a little bit too much to heart).

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