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Neat Things I've Learned From My COPD Patients

I am not much of a social person. When in large groups I tend to stay quiet. I guess you can say I’m more of a listener in those situations, but one on one I tend to be a good conversationalist. This has lead to many great conversations with my COPD patients.

To be honest, I never really considered myself a conversationalist, but there are many times I give breathing treatments to patients that take me 30 or 40 minutes. If you take treatments you know they don’t take near that long. But they do when the conversation is interesting and I have heard so many neat stories from my COPD patients.

So I set up the treatment and then I pull up a chair.

Memorable stories and jokes

I guess you can say this is an advantage of working at a small-town hospital. You have time to really get to know your patients.

So one of these patients was Bob (that’s a fake name I am giving him, of course). He's a cool guy. He told me many stories, but one of these stories stands out to the point I have repeated it many times.

He said one day he was sitting at his desk in high school. He said his desk was right next to the window. When he looked out the window he could see the parking lot and he said he spent a lot of time that year looking out the window. To the point that his teacher noticed. His teacher approached him.

His teacher said something like, “Bob if you are going to spend your time in class daydreaming and staring out that window you might as well go home and never come back. If you don’t start paying attention you will never amount to anything.”

To that, Bob told me he said, “Look, I am already a successful businessman. Those are my trucks and I have to make sure no one takes them.”

Another of my patients always had something funny to tell me. Of all the funny things he said, I only remember one. He said, “Do you know the secret to a long life?”

I said, “No. I do not.”

He said, “You follow each inspiration with an expiration.”

That’s a very fitting riddle for my line of work.

Learning about a person's life

It’s neat listening to all their stories. Sometimes it reminds me of that movie “Fried Green Tomatoes.” In just a few short visits during the day, you learn about a person’s entire life.

One guy was from my hometown. He told me how he lived way out in the country and attended a small schoolhouse during elementary school. But his dad said he’d get a better high school education if he attended the high school in town. So, this meant that he had to walk 10 miles to school every day.

He said many times he would hitchhike on his way to school. Sometimes his teachers would give him a ride home. He said one there was a blizzard. It was snowing so bad that it was impossible for drivers to see him so he was unable to get a ride and had to walk the entire 10 miles in a blizzard.

I had one COPD patient who was a former CIA operative. I wish I could remember the stories he told. So many interesting stories.

What about you? Do you have an interesting story to share? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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