My husband had surgery last week.

It wasn't life-threatening. Just necessary.

We had it done by two surgeons in Houston who are renowned for their work. At Methodist Hospital.

There were signs up in the hospital foyer announcing that Methodist had won all kinds of awards.

I know why.

My husband was not just a case. Not his procedure name.

(When I had my rotator cuff surgery 2 years ago, I overheard someone in pre-op referring to me as "the rotator in  bed 8.")

Every doctor. Every nurse. Every staff person. All spoke if they were anywhere near us. Asked if there was something he or I needed. 

They even had mistletoe hanging in the corridor.

Mistletoe. Like at Christmas. That's where they stopped before whisking my husband through the surgery doors. Where we kissed and I said what everybody says. "Take care of this guy for me" or some idiotic thing like that.

Trying not to cry.

My only objection was the TV program that was on in the waiting room. It was a rerun of that medical show starring Dr. McDreamy. Even though the TV was blaring, I couldn't really hear it clearly. Bits and pieces of dialogue would leap out. Mostly the words "surgery" and "dying".

Not what I needed to hear.

I have seen a few doctors and plenty of nurses as patients. I have medical folks in my family. I know it must be hard to see the volume of sick people they see. To cope with the pain, suffering, drug-seeking, and dying that many of them deal with on a daily basis. They see courage, but not all of us rise to the occasion when we are sick. Or scared.

It felt really wonderful that in this hospital, that coping mechanism, at least where I could detect it, was something other than objectifying the patient.

There are many medical professionals out there who don't. They retain their warmth. Their caring toward patients. I am honored to know some of them.

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I asked the guy who was wheeling my husband out of the hospital about it.  "Oh yeah. They really stress helping patients out. Paying attention to what they might need. It's something we work on".

This is not an advertisement for Methodist Hospital. It's not a slam on the medical profession.

It's really my comment on what happens when we hang on to our humanity.

It makes a difference that's almost magical. It feels like something you can't quite put your finger on. But you know is happening.

We all remember to do it after a crisis of some kind. The Oklahoma bombing. Tornado disasters. 9/11.

We remember to be kind. To be aware of others around us. To be thoughtful.

Then we forget. Go back on automatic pilot.

We return to simplifying life by eliminating what takes a little more effort. Ignoring what takes just a bit more time to accomplish. Avoiding those things that might involve us engaging.

I want to try to remember. To try to create a little magic every day.

Perhaps I shall hang some mistletoe.


Dr. Margaret Rutherford is a clinical psychologist who has been in private practice for over 20 years in Fayetteville, Arkansas. She began blogging in 2012 after her only son left for college, coining the term "NestAche" for her empty nest experience. Not only here on Boomeon, she has been featured on the Huffington Post, Midlife Boulevard, BetterAfter50, BlogHer, Readers Digest, The Cheat Sheet and ArkansasWomenBloggers. Her new eBook, "Seven Commandments of Good Therapy", a basic guide on choosing a therapist or evaluating your current therapy, is available for free on her website. You can find her at or on Twitter @doctor_margaret.

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