2006-09-08 / Columnists

Eye On Physical Therapy

By Dr. Tim Rohrs, DPT

"How are you today?" A question that is often asked and is seemingly innocuous. Those in the health care field ask this all day long; to their patients, family members, coworkers, and friends. When asked of patients, one does not know what to expect as an answer. I frequently hear colleagues complain that they are given too much information; the patient shares that which is personal, painful, scary, depressing. (Shame on my colleagues!)

I consider it an honor when someone shares a part of himself or herself with me. That they would invest trust in me to cry, pray, express their fears and doubts in front of me is a sign of respect. An integral part of being in the health care field is CARING. Patients have an equal chance to touch our lives as much as we touch theirs, if given the opportunity. The sorrow that accompanies the death of a parent, the anxiety of the parent of a child diagnosed with illness, the fear of the recent widow with abnormal blood test results, the apprehension of being left alone, should give us pause in our busy lives. A time for reflection is never wasted time. It offers a chance to be thankful for what we have, and to offer comfort to others who are in desperate need of it. It offers me a chance to think about when was the last time I: Called my parents and told them I love them; Brought flowers home to my wife for no reason; Or put down my work and played ball with my son.

Some days, the best treatment is a compassionate ear. Some days what is needed is to sit and listen, to offer a shoulder and Kleenex, to cry, to pray, and hug. I am touched that you confide in me, honored that you value my opinion, and thankful that you have given me the occasion to not only comfort you but to reflect on myself and my values.After the tears have fallen and have been dried, I leave the treatment room, and I put a smile on my face and spring in my step and approach my next patient and ask "How are you today?"

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