A little grit

I haven’t written in a few days. This is not for lack of wanting to but more a lack of time and that sort of over the top push to actually sit down and write. The kids have been quite a handful but extremely entertaining as usual. Brooke had a book club gathering last night which left a number of dad’s and kids free for a hangout which happened at our house. A wild time was had all around I believe. My kids were a bit tired from a hectic week of school and something about having friends into your own house seems to bring out the little devil in children. Non the less it was enjoyable.

Today I somewhat forced the boys into a mountain bike ride while I ran. I clearly have not been active enough of late as I struggled and felt the burn of to much recent inactivity. Although I was not as active as I would have liked while I was in Seattle last year for treatment I clearly had more free time which was only filled with walking, light jogging or doing physical therapy. Lately I real feel lax in the activity category though.

Despite the boys initial reluctance the small patches of blue sky, the early falling yellow leaves, the moisture in the air of the recent rains, and the muddy puddles along the single track brought more smiles and laughs than a Goofy movie. The laughter was as refreshing to me as the cool morning. As I sprinted along behind Finn I could hear Liam whooping and splashing followed shortly by Finn’s giggle of glee as the dirty waters parted and took flight around his bike tires. They did amazingly well. There were multiple wipeouts as many corners were slick and occasionally a puddle was deeper than predicted. There were no tears though. Near the end of the 6 mile trip Liam got a little fussy as his legs were getting tired (rightfully so, I did not push him much) but we had a little teaching moment about grit and perseverance which I am not sure he really listened too but he did finish up strong.

Later in the afternoon we were visited by Anne Nixon an old friend from Halibut Cove who was passing through town. We had a nice talk and she watched my recent speech at Medicine X which is up on YouTube now (link below). We talked about health care a bit and a Homer resident who is really doing some aggressive treatment for quadraparesis. She mentioned that he really had to fight for some respect and aid to get what he felt he needed. This brought up a good point which I have struggled with a bit since being involved in Medicine X. There still clearly remains this belief and feeling that the medical profession presents these barriers for patients to climb. A feeling of sort of “our team vs your team” which puts me in an interesting position as I clearly play on both teams.  And I think I want to clear this feeling up a bit…

Yes, patients must struggle, if we didn’t than these journeys would be fun and people would do it for the heck of it! Yes, physicians and medical professionals care, we wouldn’t do this if we didn’t, it ain’t worth it! Yet so often in this debate what gets lost is that our society, in much of the world but most evident in the US is that we as a whole don’t really care about our health. We don’t and we must all accept this. This creates an awkward arrangement. Docs and care providers want to help but the majority of patients we come into contact want to know “what will YOU do for ME?” Every so often we come across a patient who really is thinking “what do I do to help ME?” These are the patients who get shafted. It is hard in those situations to really convince someone you want aid, not a miracle, you want realism and real care/guidance. Most people will say they want to get better but they want the miracle the blue pill to health.

We do have a lot of potential to fix a problem but almost always there involves some serious sacrifice by patients to get there. Simply put people don’t want that. And so the teams are split. In the middle are the truly altruistic providers who will help everyone (but they burn out) and the loud voiced patients (who may loose there voice in the midst of the real complainers). So what do we do? I don’t have the answer. I know that. I do know that the answer is not to be two teams. We talked a lot about co-mingling the teams at Med X. There is a lot to do before that ever happens. Even there I heard to many stories of people feeling wronged by the medical profession but I am not sure they have seen it from the other side. We need more of that if we are to find an answer.

I told Liam today as he complained about his legs burning as we neared the end of the ride that grit is more important than any other trait you may have. The ability to struggle and push on, to think about what could be and make the feeling of pain at the moment some reminder of the reward at the end. Better yet to make it so you enjoy that pain because then you can thrive where others fear to go. That is the time when you real come to the front of a crowd and lead. I was glad to see him stand up on the peddles and push a bit harder. Maybe he has a grit I haven’t seen yet. I need to harness my own advice to him and keep pushing for a more cohesive medical world.

Head Up, Heart Strong. I need a cure.

The link to the youtube talk check it out.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pq5rY9cThsU&list=PLWIrCndjhuYs3Ffe2o-03llN8uuzIOTtv

you can also just go to YouTube and search Matthew Dudley.


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