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Shoulder to Shoulder

Updated: Oct 20, 2019

Last year was an incredibly long year. In my field, the first part of the year is the craziest, most stress inducing time and having two bilateral hip surgeries in nine weeks did not contribute to having less stress! Last year, I was the hamster on the proverbial hamster wheel. The faster I ran, the further I had to go! One of the downsides of the hamster wheel, besides the fact that I’m out of breath, is that I lose focus. I had lost the ability to see the big picture and could only see that next hurried foot. I had lost my passion for the travels and only saw one step at a time. This is partially why I started this blog. I did not feel that I was making a difference in my career and I had lost my enthusiasm. I had hoped that my writing would be therapeutic for myself and maybe -just maybe- could help someone else get through their hip struggles.

In my job, I am a problem solver and the buck stops with me when it relates to my clients. What this means is that I don’t usually get the nice, soft, warm fuzzy situations to deal with. I get the cases that are heading down the legal rabbit hole. The ones where I can do no right - the ones where I’m the bad cop. I don’t usually get the situations where there is peace, love, happiness and kumbaya!

But I had a “wow” moment and it was a bit surprising to me. You see, my Hip Healing Surgeon aka Dr. Robert Kollmorgen, Hip Preservationist taught me to look at the families that I serve in a completely different way. “So, Hopeful Hippy, you’re saying that your Hip Healing Surgeon taught you to think differently AND fixed your hips?” That’s exactly what I am saying.

How? Let me tell you! Routinely over the last year, I have observed my Hip Healing Surgeon sit next to me as he talks with me. I don’t know if this is intentional, just who he is or maybe even just a tired doctor who needs to sit down. I have also noted that he is incredibly patient with my questions. He has helped me through the vulnerability of being a patient relying on someone else to fix me and my quirky hips. He has encouraged an empowered and educated patient. He has put up with my need for control. But most importantly, he has sat shoulder to shoulder with me through this process.

So how has that message been applied to the families that I serve? I have been able to translate my vulnerability through this medical maze, along with my doctor’s patience and encouragement and, even his nonverbal cues, to understanding those that I support with more empathy and compassion. I have been able to see the angst in a mother’s eyes when she is told her child has a learning disability. I have been able to slow my explanation in a way that honors that worry. I have developed a genuine patience with the myriads of questions. I was also able to take this lesson learned a step further.

I started the school year talking to my staff of about 50 about this message and my “ah ha” moment. With a little mist in my eyes, I explained the vulnerability that I had felt as a patient and my need to understand the process in order to control my anxiety. I then was able to connect the dots for them. These same feelings that I had are probably very similarly experienced by those that they (and I) serve. Most times there is the same fear, anxiety, and vulnerability that I felt going through this medical process. My staff needed to understand how important it is to honor other’s vulnerability, anxiety and fear in their service to students and parents. Through that, there is empowerment and confidence.

My “wow” moment was inspired by my Hip Healing Surgeon. Yes, he is highly technically skilled. What he brought to the "operating" table was what I needed for healing - not just those technical skills, but those people skills. There is no ICD or CPT code that can enumerate the value of this! There is no pre-authorization needed! Just insert some humanity into the equation and there is success. So, thank you, Dr. Kollmorgen, for a lesson learned and passed on.

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