Monday, August 1, 2011


 I noticed a trend today. Appreciation!

I was greeted this morning by nursing facility residents with bright smiles, "ohs!" (new hair style - they all noticed, even the ones with dementia!) and sweet words ("We missed you, Tre! We're so glad you're back! How was your vacation?) I felt such appreciation!

Isn't that a great way to start the week!

There's a book I'd like to recommend. The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  In the book, Chapman introduces five ways in which people demonstrate their love for each other.

One of these is words of affirmation.

Receiving such sweetness from my older friends fueled a desire to pay forward positivity today. What "something special" could I note and share with each person in appreciation of them?

I understood more about Hank during his occupational therapy appointment today. I palpably felt his anguish as he opened up about a childhood rife with abuse by his mentally ill mother and social isolation at school.

This man, however, navigated through a miserable childhood into a meaningful life as an artist and teacher, father and friend.

By the time we parted, I realized that tatoos were Hank's route to a life of creative expression, friendship and empowerment. Every tatoo represented a significant moment or mark of friendship in Hank's life. Some of us may choose photos or jewelry or momentos to remember special events or beloved people.

Hank chose art...
...on his skin.

He morphed today from just a guy with tatoos to an authentic creative professional.

What I appreciated about Hank was his dedication to his art form and his contribution to the education of future tatoo artists. College degree in art, years spent teaching newbies in a seven-year apprentice program...

Seven years?! I had no idea....this wasn't just a two-week training session...

I gave him kudos. That's all I could do. He beamed.


Shortly after, I sat down with a resident with dementia who had recently undergone inguinal hernia surgery. Earlier in life as a surgeon, Ron  had corrected inguinal hernias.

I explained to Ron that we needed to work together because his surgery and hospitalization had weakened him.

"What surgery?" he asked.

"Well," I replied, "you had a right inguinal hernia surgery last week."
He immediately touched his right groin area. I asked, "Dr. Ron, how do you fix a hernia?" And he launched into an admirable description of how to surgically correct it.


In the healthcare world, we always check something called orientation. Do you know:

1) who you are
2) where you are
3) when it is; and
4) why you're there?

Dr. Ron was oriented only to who he was, yet he could retrieve from memory how to perform surgery!

Dr. Ron was not the same after surgery as before; something subtle had shifted in his affect. When I looked him squarely in the eyes at the end of the treatment to congratulate him on a job well done, his dull eyes locked with mine, and suddenly, it was as if they lit up. They sparkled...and then a smile emerged that I had not seen in quite some time.

My heart squeezed. "Dr. Ron, you just made my day."

He winked.

I wanted to talk a bit more about Dr. Ron's work. "So, tell me about the other surgeries you used to perform."


The moment was lost.

Dr. Ron may not always remember what a difference he has made, but it didn't stop me from reminding him.

We all want to know that we contribute in some significant way. It's also up to us to acknowledge the contributions of others. it forward!


  1. Beautiful, these stories and your love and care given to your patients truly moved me. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Tre - I LOVE your blog!!!! We all miss you! I'm so glad to hear that life is going so well, you always can find the positives in life. I love your compassion for all of the people you touch daily. Hope to see you soon.

    Lauren Jack

  3. Thank you so much!! I miss you peeps, too! I'm happy you are following the blog! Don't forget to sign up so you can see my updates....Peace, hope to see you in Sep when I swing into Missouri...Tre