Sports Night, Ep. 7

Dear Louise…

The staff is going out for discounted drinks (large blue margaritas) after work, and Natalie would like her soon-to-be-boyfriend to accompany them:

Natalie: Come on out with us.
Jeremy: I’ll catch up with you later.
Dana: Work’s over, Jeremy. It’s time for big giant blue things at $2 off.
Jeremy: I just want to write a quick letter to my sister Louise. She’s a sophomore at Amherst.
Dan: You write letters?
Jeremy: I write to Louise.
Natalie: You want me to stick around for company?
Jeremy: Me?
Natalie: Yeah. I can stick around.
Jeremy: No, I’ve got everything. Word processor, envelopes.
Natalie: Okay.
Jeremy: Okay.
Natalie: Stamps?
Jeremy: Oh, I actually don’t have a stamp to speak of, but that’s okay. I’ve found that when I need a stamp, one materializes. I never know where one’s going to come from, but they always do. Stamps.

Natalie has something to offer. And although she is probably trying to offer Jeremy more than he can fully comprehend, her conversation is welcomed. It is unobtrusive. It is centered around Jeremy’s needs, not her own.

Casey on the other hand:

Casey: I haven’t found that. I’ve found that when I need a stamp, there’s never one around. This is back when I used to write letters. When I used to write letters, I could never find a stamp.
Dana: Hey, can you guess what I’m thinking now?
Casey: That no one gives a damn about me and my history with stamps.
Dana: Bulls eye.

. . . .

Just because people attend therapy for one pain or another does not necessarily mean that they want to be taught about why their pain happens. Despite the compelling research that is available to the clinician, informing them of the importance of pain education, one must still take pause…and wait…for the patient.

We need to wait for the patient to invite conversation that revolves around how (rather than what) they feel. They must be confident that your attention is focused on their needs exclusively, not a predetermined series of bullet points to present to them from a memo. Only then will the clinician have the greatest potential to make a profound difference in the patient’s understanding, serving the patient to arrive at an actionable conclusion.

To not wait for an invitation is a lose-lose proposition as the clinician inevitably discovers that the patient doesn’t give a damn about them or their understanding about pain. In the end, the clinician moves onto their next patient convinced that they tried their best, and the patient walks out the door convinced they just met yet another clinician who thought they had all the answers.



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