Out There

characters

Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on July 25, 2008

People are so great.  I’m in my 3rd and final summer of internships, accumulating 400+ clinical practicum hours to meet the requirements of ASHA.  My official graduation date (not the same as commencement, don’t ask, long story) is 7-31!  WOOHOOO!!!  Anyway, so I’ve met some fantastic characters this summer.  I’m not going to use any names or even reveal where I’m working so hopefully there is nothing identifiable in what I say so I don’t get in huge trouble.

Just as a follow-up to the previous post, one of my patients at my summer hospital internship is from Cordova.  Actually he was born in Port Townsend, not too far from where I grew up in Poulsbo, WA, but he has been in Cordova for 50 years or more.  He is a real character with tons of great Alaska stories (his terrier chasing brown bears; riding out the tsunamis generated by the mammoth Good Friday 1964 earthquake on his boat in Cordova’s harbor, with troughs so big his boat hit the bottom, snapping both 5/8″ ropes holding his boat to the dock, and then shooting him up into the air again while he frantically tries to retie up in between waves–on one high wave he pounded a spike high on a piling to show how high he was (only one other guy was crazy enough to be on his boat after the quake); committing bald eagle genocide (with intricate, grisly detail); hunting thousands of seals–they got a bounty from the state for the noses; and on and on.  He is a treasure, at least for me.  I could listen to his stories for hours, seriously.  But aaaanyway (here is where it ties into the previous post, at last), I brought up Exxon, and mentioned how I won’t get gas there still to this day.  He responded that he once realized that he was in a gas station owned by Exxon.  He was only there to relieve himself, but ended up telling the poor attendant Exxon wasn’t even worthy of human waste, and he won’t even use the bathroom at an Exxon.

Then I have another client, a woman who struggles sometimes with tasks that are routine for younger, healthier people.  When she really has a hard time and I finally show or tell her the answer to what she was puzzling over, she shrugs her shoulders and cocks her head and says with this wonderful tone of voice “OH well.”  I think I’m finding myself in admiration of her childlike acceptance of failure.  Not that she gives up or doesn’t try hard, quite the opposite.  But she just lets it go.  Quick to let go of frustration and despair, and quick to accept and believe in joy, love, and pretty much anything positive.  Due to damage and circumstances, this woman really acts like a great big and old child.  and she is really delightful, telling everyone she loves them and giving kisses in knowing and yet innocent sincerity.  It’s been truly fun to help her and praise her successes and progress.

I’ve been working with all of these older individuals, many of whom can no longer feed themselves, many who can’t move the right side of their body very well if at all, some have great difficulty communicating with others or have no speech at all, some have attempted suicide in the facility – these people have very real suffering and pain.  Right now.  And I’ve found that they’re beautiful people who have a lot to give, who don’t wallow in their pain for the most part.  They’re really amazing models and an inspiration to me, and God many of them don’t even know you.  I have a beautiful wife, an incredible strong friend to me and everything I could ask for in a partner.  I have a daughter who is like an ATM machine that is stuck on, except she is spitting out joy instead of twenties.  Like that scene in Brewster’s Millions when the machine is just shooting money out at him.  uh…yeah, ok terrible writing, but its MY blog, so there.  anyway, man i have sooo much room for more character growth than where I’m at now.  “in the world you will have trouble, but I leave you my peace” says rich mullins paraphasing (quoting?) Christ, and I’ve sung it and believed it, but God has been so gracious to me.  Most of us, we’re in the top…what, 5% (?) of the world in our material wealth, and anyway I’m rambling now, but my hospital internship has been a good place for me and very thought-provoking.  Gotta go, they’re closing the lab.

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