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Quality

IMG_20131002_102109_resizedLaid upon the tray next to the exam table were these items.  Oh joy.  Most women, upon seeing these objects, cringe.  If you have no idea what these things are you have been very lucky.

I appreciate these items; things that detected my genetic predisposition to cervical cancer.  I am grateful I do not have to revisit these utensils quarterly, as I once did over a three year period, and never think twice when proffered this exam.  My current health care provider is amazing and I actually enjoy talking with her; the physician’s assistant who is exactly my age.  She is proactive, affable and very real and my quick entry in and out of the exam room was Ace!  If only she was surrounded by others like her.

With our government in shut-down mode, due to health care reform, I thought of the premiums I pay for my family’s medical insurance.  I sat with the phlebotomist as she drew my blood, my eyes following her single ear bud cord to the smart phone it was plugged into; her eyes watching a movie as vials of red pulsed from my veins.  She was doing her job, methodically and she smiled as she did it.  But really?  I mean, couldn’t she have waited until there wasn’t a patient sitting before her?  Couldn’t she have taken the earbud off and tucked the phone away?  Though she behaved professionally my health care dollars should not be utilized on a person watching movies while drawing blood.  Where is the quality of care, the customer service?  I noted her name to mentally file.

The medical tech who brought me into the exam room was no different.  Brusque and abrupt she dutifully asked me medical questions and was to follow-up with a post- exam appointment.  She asked me my preferences and after my exam was complete; sat before her desk.  She did not adhere to my preferences and when I gently reminded her she handed me a phone number to make my appointment myself; the wrong phone number.  I committed her name badge to memory.   This lack of attention to detail; particularly in the health professions, was unsettling.  It was obvious she wanted to be on her way; to “where” I have no idea and I was the first appointment of the day.  And so I quietly observed her demeanor and bedside manner; in stark contrast to my beloved health care provider.  Her work was shoddy; lacking quality and my annoyance level grew.  I am able to speak for myself.  I imagined an infirm, elderly man or a person easily intimidated by the sterile, bright lights; the shiny tools on the tray.  Is this what our health care is becoming?  When compensation is capped in our system; do we get mediocre care?  And do we accept this as the status quo?

I think of the quote from one of my favorite movies, The Incredibles by Syndrome.  “I’ll sell my inventions so that ‘everyone’ can have powers. ‘Everyone’ can be super! And when everyone’s super…[chuckles evilly] no one will be.”  

I am a proponent for accessible health care.  But just because everyone has access to it, it really doesn’t fix the true problem.  Our health care system lacks the quality of care.  And with more people to manage and no compensation; with everyone being equal, we will plateau.  And I will have more technicians like today as I am shuttled from one department to another, a medical record number; faceless.   I realized how rare it is to have a practitioner like mine and I am grateful.  Quality.  It makes all the difference.

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I returned to my work desk mulling this word over and over.  So many paths of my life are converging and the road not taken is becoming crystal clear.  I’ve recently been conversing with a girlfriend about friendships and the various groups that she socializes with.  She has a diverse network and I marveled at the quantity of friendships she’s had; envying her ability to traverse her relationships.  I wish I had that quality.  I often must apologize to my friends; the ones that know my quirky personality; the time I lack.  I am quite terrible at remembering much of my own schedule; much less anyone else’s.  My bff and childhood girlfriend are phenomenal at remembering dates: birthdays, anniversaries.  I am wistful as I receive cards or items in the mail; amazed at their consideration and kindness while I, guiltily, note my lack of reciprocation.  I have difficulty affirming with words, frenetically balancing my balls-in-the-air to return the favor by my actions.  It is because they remain close that I know that the ties that bind are of quality.    These are few and far between.  I must constantly remind myself as I watch relationships fade: it is quality; not quantity, that matters.

I’ve recently caught myself observing “me” as if outside my body; looking at the things and people that surround my life.  Intuitively I know what situations are temporary and which are long-lasting and I constantly question where I shall concentrate my efforts.  Saying No creates better Yeses.  I think of the things I serve, the reasons why.  Is my time better spent elsewhere?  Do I want to be robotic and spread thin, multi-tasking and being good at nothing?  Or do I continue to work at doing less, being more real, transparent?  Our bookclub, for instance, weighed options such as serving food at our monthly gathering.  Which did I value more, the food or the book?  Did I really care?  After a year of working this through I realized the thing I valued more was the book and that, to some in our group, it was the food and socialization that mattered.  And so maybe the numbers will fall, the wheat separated from the chaff.  Quality vs. Quantity.  I am okay with diminishing numbers, closing circles. My converging paths merge into a singular one.

I love this philosophy.  “To be amazing you have to first be authentic…  Your real self is not defined by what others think, nor by the roles you have in life.  It is defined by the genuine substance of who you are at your very core.  Its the sum of your thoughts, talents, wisdom and skills.” ~ Tony Horton, Bring It.

And so I search for quality (noun): http://www.Merriam-Webster.com  1.how good or bad something is, 2. a characteristic or feature that someone or something has, 3. something that can be noticed as a part of a person or thing, 4. a high level of value or excellence.  I am redefining my definitions of what is best; how I will embody it.  I work on grace and finding it.  A quote shared by my school administrator stuck with me.  Sometimes you’re the pigeon, and sometimes you’re the statue.  I must be attentive and sensitive to my character flaws; being the pigeon as well as the statue.   I am working on being consistent, transparent.  Eventually I can take the WORK out of this statement and just BE.  To own my words as I write them.   To discern what is important.  To tread lightly on the path.  It is not my intention to leave footprints to show or mark my passing.  I am to walk lightly, to do what I love and to be, exactly, who I am.  My season is changing and I welcome it with open arms.  Let the leaves fall where they may.

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