Different But Alike
Over the many years of seeing patients, it is interesting how different but alike they seem. I have always been amazed that even when we can’t understand the language, we still communicate…with a smile, a twinkle or tear.
I remember a Vietnamese child wounded by a grenade. Even though I couldn’t understand what was being said, I understood the worry, fear and sorrow of the people in the village. The women cried for the child but were so thankful as we tended to him. We were different, but we were alike.
Back in Pittsburgh, when I would come out of surgery to see the patient’s family, even before I spoke, they were looking for any sign that everything is ok. Sometimes, there was a sigh or tear of relief. Sometimes, just comfort and a quiet smile.
I have met with physicians and dentists from all over the world. It is interesting how we were all different and also all alike. We would exchange ideas, share patient experiences and seek new ways to treat our patients.
While in Honduras with the International Medical Corps, a physician commander asked if I would go into town to see a little girl with a facial deformity. The MD in the town knew that the contras had MD’s treating the wounded and asked for help.
I saw the 12-year-old girl. Her lower jaw was enlarged and she couldn’t get the front teeth together. Her tongue hung out in front of her upper teeth. At the next visit to the contra camp, I rebuilt the lower jaw for her. I couldn’t understand what they said. We were all different. But we understood what needed to be done. We were alike.
Part of my story also depicts the non-professional similarities and differences. Have you ever noticed that if you give a couple children each a cookie how they will inspect the other’s cookie and want a piece? It’s the old, “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.”
People seem to want to keep what’s theirs and get some of yours’. I saw physicians divide up the community so that patients could only go to certain physicians. If the patient “violated the border” they couldn’t go back. But the MD that they went to visit across the border would gladly accept them.
I thought it was unprofessional. But to them, it was business as usual. They were all alike as physicians but they were different when it came to business. Or, were they all different as physicians and all alike as people?
I’m very comfortable looking back and seeing some of the antics in the profession. But they were the same in community politics and just how people interacted with one another. We are all different and we are all alike.
In my book, you will read how people interact with one another and how their interactions affect businesses, patients and people. People may want you to get ahead…but not ahead of them. We are all alike!