Four Inches Squared

It’s hard to describe the feeling that happened not long ago when someone somewhere told us it was ok not to have to wear a mask at work. After 819 days.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of new people over the past couple of years. In my line of work, I really get to know people. Like, REALLY get to know people. In some ways, people are like puzzles. I put pieces of information together about different aspects of a patients life; their work, their personal lives, their hobbies, their marriage or relationship, their kids, their families, their passions and their fears. Pretty much everything has a puzzle piece that, over time, gets put into place. Some areas have lots of pieces. Others, only one. When you’ve never seen the face of a person you’re trying to help, who’s in pain, crying behind their mask, or suffering in one of a multitude of ways, it’s tough to identify completely with that person. I would like to hope that we did our very best and met our patients exactly where they needed to be met, regardless of a mask or other barrier.

I told Katie not long ago that my happiness meter had gone up two whole notches when I finally got to see all of your amazing faces. It finally allowed me to put that last piece of the puzzle into place and “see” you as an entire person. In a lot of cases, there was this instant acknowledgement of each other that is totally unique to our experiences with COVID. It’s funny, but it was very emotional for me to get to register your smile or your other expressions and add them to my imaginary puzzle I’m constantly putting together of you as a person. Maybe you even had the same kind of experience with me? I’m sure it wasn’t easy taking advice and getting care from someone you couldn’t see either. Maybe even some of you wished the mask had stayed on!! lol.

These days haven’t been easy for any of us and regardless of political views, healthcare views, trucker rally views, social media views, religious views, we all came out on the other side (so far) better people because we’ve all had to connect with each other differently and that takes effort from all of us. Well done.

To be honest, when the masks came off, it felt like I was meeting a lot of you for the very first time even though we’d been working closely together for years. It also felt, and continues to feel like we’re a bunch of friends who’ve all been through something traumatic together, carried each other when we needed to be carried, waited for each other while the other was catching their breath, or just needed someone to talk to, or a hand on your shoulder for that bit of comfort you couldn’t get anywhere else. It may not make sense, but I get a ton of value from each visit from each patient and it’s great to finally get all your little puzzle pieces together and plop them into place.

It’s amazing how valuable that 4 square inches under your nose is. It says a lot about you.

Thanks for enduring these last couple of years together and thanks for being a super valuable part of my puzzle collection.

Dr. B