This morning I was having a conversation with my client about a History Channel program on the top 101 innovations that changed our lives. It started because my client is an avid fisherman and two innovations on the list were using fiberglass for fishing poles in place of bamboo and the spin reel. While a great improvement for fishermen I did not see how either one changed our lives on a society level. He of course begged to disagree.
Also on the list was the aerosol spray. It was invented to create bug bomb sprays during the Vietnam war and it turned the tide on the malaria issue. Now my client is a very proud Vietnam Veteran and we have discussed the war before so I thought nothing of mentioning it. He made a few jokes about how “when you can actually feel a misquote landing on you, then you know you are in trouble.”
My next comment came out without even thinking and received an answer that stunned me. I said “and of course that bug spray you inhaled was way better for you than the bites.” He snorted and replied “yeah and the agent orange just cleared the foliage with no harmful affect on the soldiers. It’s only why my brother and both have pace makers now.”
I was silent for a second as he continued to talk about the innovations on the list. Now of course I knew about his pace maker but it never occurred to me that his heart condition was caused by agent orange exposure. Fortunately my client is an amazing person and made peace with his past a long time ago, so my guilt over the casual comment was short lived. But it was a huge reminder about how much we take our knowledge for granted as medical professionals.
Being a Scar Tissue Practitioner I am well aware of the emotional affects of injuries and surgeries. I am always tactful when inquiring about their history. I know that a pacemaker is a small device that’s placed in the chest or abdomen to help control abnormal heart rhythms. On his intake form he just put that he had the surgery. We never delved into the exact issue with his heart as his complaint/our treatment focus has always been his arthritis and knee & hip replacements.
One of the great things about working with people is that you learn something every day. Today, I was reminded not to take anything for granted , how incredible my client is, I need to be even more thorough with my intake and just when you think you know someone you realize there is just so many more layers to them them you ever imagined.
“Life is like an onion: you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.” Carl Sandburg