Someone once said to me that while to a butcher a pair of lamb chops is just another set of lamb chops, to a person who has not eaten in a long while, it will be the best meal ever. In sum, it is all a matter of perspective.

I point this out because, once again, my husband is in the hospital; while his bypass surgery was successful, he acquired an infection which necessitated opening the incision, cleaning it and then closing it up again.

The morning of his second surgery struck us both as interesting. At a certain point, we both felt that it was an assembly line procedure. His surgery was referred to as “a case”- the human element being taken out of the equation altogether, almost like he was a FedEx package to be delivered.

Notably, during the days in between his first and second surgeries, the incision remained opened so that the nurses could clean it twice a day. At one point, the staff doctor (or hospitalist) came in to see him and, at first, was very detached and professional. But then we got to talking, and he told us about the time that he was a patient and how it felt to be on the other side of the bed and not in control. Rather than giving the orders and asking the questions, suddenly, he was on the receiving end, out of control and obeying orders. Because of that experience, he is now able to empathize with his patients and relate to them and their experiences.

This life’s lesson applies not just to the medical profession but to all of us no matter what we do in life. While we may be very used to doing what we do for a living, to others it is unique and out of their comfort zone. To us, it may be just another set of lamb chops but to others– it is a sumptuous meal.  We should not, and indeed, cannot lose sight of this perspective; the ordinary to us is the unique to someone else.

And… last but foremost, we can’t lose sight of the humanity involved. We are all humans with feelings and emotions. This was brought home to the staff doctor when he became the patient. He suddenly appreciated that patients are not just another “case” but real live human beings with fears, emotions and feeling very much out of control. As a patient, he learned to look at the person in the bed as a human being.

So, must we… learn to look at others as whole human beings… with feelings, emotions and fears and very much out of control.

So when in a dispute or even just during a plain ole’ conversation with someone, treat them as a person, and not just another set of lamb chops.

…. Just something to think about.

 

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