Saturday, November 3, 2012

Everybody Needs a "Tony"

Serving as a physician in the emergency department of a busy hospital is hard work.  It is as simple as that. And the experience is nothing like what is portrayed on television.  There are intoxicated people that curse at you, and other patients that are angry because they had to wait to long in the waiting room. There are others that are admitted because they are hearing voices. “ER docs” as we call them here in Texas treat sick babies and elderly people that have broken hips. And they have the grim duty of sitting down with families to tell them that their loved one’s self-inflicted gunshot was fatal.

 As a law enforcement chaplain, I have spent some time with several ER docs. I have the utmost respect for their ability to treat complete strangers. They are truly lifesavers. But today I was reminded that doctors don’t cease to care when their shift is over in the emergency room.

I have a friend that traveled to her hometown from overseas this past week to care for her mother that is suffering from a very serious illness. Immediately she was bombarded with important decisions to make regarding her mother’s care.  What kind of home health care is the best option?  Should her mother be in a health care facility?  What to do? There are no simple solutions. I have been there. I vividly remember how painful it is to make those decisions.

During a particularly difficult time in caring for her mother at home, Tony showed up.  Now Tony is a strapping guy.  He was able to complete some physically challenging tasks as my friend cared for her mother at her home. In fact, he was able to assist in a very competent manner. You see Tony is an “ER Doc.”  He is charged with saving lives in his work at the emergency room. And like all docs in his field, he gets cursed at and rebuked for long waits and on and on…But that has not stopped him being a lifesaver.

Today he was a lifesaver for a mutual friend that has traveled overseas to care for her mother. She found herself in need of a friend as she carried out that important task.  And she especially needed a friend with some medical expertise. Tony stepped in and got the job done.

I helped care my own mother for three months prior to her death. That has been 21 years ago, but I have never forgotten the people that stepped in to serve when my sister and I felt especially desperate. As I read the account of Tony’s capable assistance, two thoughts came to mind. Doctors are lifesavers in more than one way.  Sometimes they are lifesavers for the caregiver. And the second thought keeps popping up in my head is this: everybody needs a “Tony.”

We all need people in our lives that are willing to use their training and experience to serve us. Tomorrow I will be more alert to those that are calling out for help...even if such calls are very subtle. I will be on alert, because I was reminded today that everybody needs “Tony.” And next time I am called to the ER to assist with a family I won’t fail to tell my ER doc thank you... It would not hurt any of us to tell the doctors that serve us thank you every once in a while. After all everybody needs a “Tony.”

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