Shards of Consciousness

I'm Not a Diagnosis

This morning's StoryCorp broadcast involved a lady who was involved in a severe car accident that left her paralyzed and most bones in her body broken. While in the hospital a young doctor began telling her everything she may not ever be able to do again. These included things like talking, smelling, and tasting.

At the time, the woman was using an alphabet board to communicate. She would point at letters on the board with chopsticks to spell out what she wanted to say. To the young physician she says

Life is not worth living if you can't eat cannolis.

and followed it up with

Now put down the chart and give me a hug.

The physician did so, allowing the healing process to begin.

A human touch. Treatment as a person, not an illness, a relationship between two people is the key to health and happiness. How often do we remember this in our daily lives?

Human resources is next door to material resources. Hospital beds are home to pneumonia, broken arms, colon cancer. We have a laundry service. Table six is the burger, salad, and steak sandwich. Register five is slow. Use register six.

We tag people with the role they play in our lives, mechanizing relationships out of consciousness and out of existences. Labels are necessary for our functioning, but neither you, nor I, nor the person laying in the hospital bed is a label. We are each people. We are each the other half of a relationship.

All coins have a heads and a tails, but they are two halves of the same coin. The person on the other side of the counter is connected to us by more than space, by more than labels. They are a part of us, as we are a part of them. To treat one another as the labels we attach to each other is the birth of disappointment and disease. To forget the relationships that bind us is to lose our chance at health and happiness. To remember the relationships that bind us is to once again become human.

2 Responses to I'm Not a Diagnosis

  • Excellent story! And, so very true. If we could all look past the labels and see each other as fellow human beings walking this planet together...what a wonderful world it would be!

    Thanks for the reminder, Rick.

  • It's good to hear from you again!

    It is a wonderful world. When we look past the labels, we remember that. The remembrance it brings is why I like Story Corps so much.

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