After I saw Dr. No Bedside Manner I had an appointment at my school with the program director to register for the next semester. He was running a bit behind and I was highly anxious. I had booked the appointment 20 minutes before I was scheduled to take an exam for the most difficult class I was taking. When I made the appointment, I had no idea what that day would have in store for me. I had even waited an extra day to get the results of the MRI from the ENT because I wanted to be able to study for this test without anything interfering. I had reviewed the images myself and although I did not know how to interpret them, I knew something didn't look right.
About 10 minutes before my test was scheduled to begin, I was called in to the program director's office. He greets me with a smile and says, "How are you?" It was the first time someone had said those words to me since I had been told I had an inoperable brain tumor and it was a possibility that I would live with my current symptoms for life. I wanted to answer something like, "I'm incredibly anxious because you're running late, I have a huge test, and oh yeah, I have a really large brain tumor." But I was pretty sure he meant the question rhetorically so I replied, "I'm great. How are you?" I was out of there in 5 minutes and arrived to take my test just on time.
I took that test in slow motion. I had no idea I was in slow motion but I found out when the professor said, "time's up." I was in shock. Where had the two and a half hours gone? I turned in my test and said, "I didn't get to finish." The professor very nicely said, "You'll just have to be graded on the work you did." I wanted to cry. I managed to leave the building and cry in my car. It wasn't that I didn't know the material. I more than knew the material. I just couldn't concentrate enough to produce the kind of work that I would normally produce. As it turned out, I did very well on the exam (but I could have done even better).
For quite some time, I have been what I call sensitive to the human condition. I am in tune and empathetic to others feelings and I try to be responsible for the role I play in affecting others emotions. But I have my moments. You know those moments when people are just testing your patience. When it seems like their goal for the day is just to make your life a little more difficult. This changed the day I saw Dr. No Bedside Manner. Now I have an even grater awareness of the fact that I have no idea what challenges people I encounter may be going through. No one would ever meet me and think there's a girl with a brain tumor. We don't wear labels stating the challenges we face. This insight has taught me to be more patient and kinder with others - even when they aren't behaving the way I think is best. What I believe about the human condition is that we all just want our lives to work out as best they can along with the lives of all of those we care about. When someone isn't putting thier best foot forward, who knows what lies under the surface, what challenges and obstacles life has handed to them that they are battling with.
As I was sharing this with a friend who felt slighted by the way someone had behaved with her she asked, "What if they're just a jerk." I agreed that it was definitely a possibility but the other side of the coin was just as likely. We usually get a small snap shot of others and we make judgements about them based on a one time interaction. What if I had been judged someone who just can't finish an exam based on the one incident? I told my friend that the truth is we can't control how other's will behave but we do always have a choice in who we "be" in the matter. I choose to be more patient, more gracious, and kinder because I bet that even if we did wear labels that stated our challenges, very few people's would read...Hello, I'm just a jerk.