Tuesday was a remarkable day.  I woke up in pain at 4 am as is my usual habit.  It turns out that 4 am is an excellent time to think and compose your thoughts.  The world is very quiet at 4 am.

 Eventually I took my pills.  I take a handful of pills 4 times a day.  When you are sick, life revolves around taking your medication.  I sat down to write.  I had been on ZDogg’s web site the day before and I wanted to write an article thanking the “nurses” that had made my job easier over the years.

Next I made breakfast and then went in the living room (now my makeshift gym) to exercise.  So far, my day was like any other day and I’m sure I’m boring you.  So, I’ll get to the point.

As stated above, Tuesday turned out to be a remarkable day.  My friend/patient picked me up for our weekly lunch.  We went to the Onion Pub.  The food was OK.  The company great.  

The “remarkable” event came next.  My patient/friend had a surgical consultation at 2 p.m. and I accompanied him as a patient advocate would.  The nurse roomed us and the surgeon, a longtime associate and consultant, came in.  I listened.  I watch the reaction of my friend/patient and listened to the surgeon’s explanation.

I was not Dr Segal.  I was not patient Segal.  I was there in a role I never imagined playing.  It was fascinating.  I could listen and process without typing in a computer.  I could listen and process without talking.  I could identify the moment that the surgeon’s medical jargon lost the patient who could no longer follow the conversation.  I noted the anxiety rising in my patient/friend. 

As a third-party observer, I could bring the two parties together, alleviating my friend’s anxiety and interpreting what the surgeon was saying.  I could also clue the surgeon into what my friend/patient was feeling and why.

More importantly, my friend/patient (or is he a patient/friend?) occupied my otherwise boring day with a mentally stimulating opportunity to shed my “invalid” status and add some modicum of validity to my day.  Thank you.

As an aside, by now you should have noticed that on occasion I type “patient/friend” and at other times I type “friend/patient”. My new role can be confusing.  To add to the confusion, this particular friend has also taken on the role of caregiver, watching over my needs, taking me to lunch and reminding me of how much care I’ve provided over the years.

Some of you have commented that my posts had become depressing and that they were worried about me.  Chronic illness is depressing.  Neurodegenerative disorders that slowly steal your abilities are even more depressing!  But friends like this one are more powerful than the highest dose of Prozac.  And maybe, just maybe, this patient/friend who has transitioned to friend/caregiver has helped me discover a new way to help those in need and, perhaps, give old retired physicians a chance to use their skills on behalf of others.

It’s certainly something to think about at 4 a.m.

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