Monday, November 5, 2012
A Parting Gift
Today was my last drive for the American Cancer Society for awhile as my schedule gets pretty crazy for the next month or so. It also happened to be for a patient for whom I've driven several times now. I think there's only been one other time this year that I've driven the same person multiple times, so this was a little unusual. Given our familiarity, we were quickly able to pick up on conversations we had previously begun and to go much deeper on some topics as well. This patient used to be an avid reader, particularly of mysteries, though he hasn't been reading much lately. He lamented that fact and had announced in one of our previous conversations that he wanted to get back to reading again. This gave me an idea.
One of the authors we both particularly enjoy is John Grisham. When I drove this person last week, I was just working my way through the latest Grisham novel that came out in October. It's called, The Racketeer, and I had told my patient a bit about it. I swung by Barnes & Noble earlier this afternoon, picked up a hardcover version for him, inscribed a message, and then wrapped it up. After his treatment today, I gave it to him to enjoy. This is his last week of radiation, and hopefully diving into this book will get him back to the kind of reading that brought him so much joy over the years.
Earlier during our ride today, on the way to the hospital, my patient asked if I would be driving him any other day this week. When I said that I wouldn't be and that this would be my last time, he said, "That's a shame." I have a feeling that he enjoyed the chance to have rich conversations with someone beyond simply talking about the weather. I try to take my cue from each patient as to how much and/or what type of conversation they want to have. I certainly don't want to pry and I want to be sensitive to their condition. However, what I've noticed most often is that most of the people really want to connect on a personal level, not just on the surface. It's possible that this is as important to them as the ride itself. And I enjoy it more that way as well.