Since I like to start in my office by 6:00 a.m. for the peace and quiet it offers, I don’t really relish evening meetings, especially if they are administrative in nature and often contentious. Recently I had the usual Monday in my office with the inevitable backlog of phone calls which always accrue over the weekend, plus some additional unforeseen problems and challenges. Thus I was more tired and harassed than usual when I got on the elevator of the hospital at 6:00 p.m. to go to the conference room for a lengthy monthly meeting which I never did enjoy.
Another man joined me on the empty elevator. He was dressed in a hospital gown and robe and was wheeling his intravenous system en route to his floor and room. He looked tired, ill, and much more haggard than I felt. Attempting to be cheerful I said, “How’s your day been so far, Sir?” “Just another day in paradise,” was his surprising answer. But I could tell from the twinkle in his eye that his comment was sincere. “Today is what we have, it’s all we’ve got,” he went on, “it’s just that some days are better than others.” This positive statement about life buoyed my energy level immensely. He got off on the ninth floor to go back to his room for whatever treatment remained for him. I knew he was recovering from a serious illness, by his attitude. He appeared to be in charge of his own destiny and the feeling was contagious.
In the 12th floor conference room, on top of the hospital, the usual bickering and complaining took place at the monthly meeting. However, that evening, seemed to me to go quickly because I could consider that the issues under heated debate were, in perspective, rather trivial, even though they dealt with the standard administrative agenda which occupies the time allotted to this meeting each month and always on a Monday night. After all, we were experiencing “another day in paradise.”
I’ll be in touch next month.
Thomas Petty, MD