A Letter to the Medical Community

To my incredible family, friends and fans – thank you all so much for the prayers, good vibes and well-wishes.  More specific updates will be forthcoming, I’m sure.  But for now…

A Letter to the Medical Community

Dear Medical Community –

Now, more than ever, I appreciate what you all do.  Doctors, your years of education and commitment to helping folks get well and be well – even in light of all the tragedy and trauma you’re faced with everyday – is commendable, to say the least.  And all of you nurses and techs… wow. Dealing with all of those bodily fluids, catheters and needles everyday, and bathing folks who can’t bathe themselves… wow.  Don’t know how you do it.   I’m glad you all have chosen the paths you’ve chosen.

All of this said, I have three observations or suggestions I would like to share with you, inspired by my recent immersion into your world these past two-and-a-half weeks.  (For those of you who already know these things, please consider educating those around you who don’t.  There are many.)

Words Matter

Words are powerful things… suggestions to the mind that can either create limited parameters for recovery or provoke unlimited opportunity for healing.  Please mind your words when hovering near the bed of a patient who is potentially faced with a long road back to wellness and normalcy.  Sprinkling your sentences with key phrases like “may never,” “hope to regain some of,” “will not likely, “could possibly, but…” are completely unnecessary to say within earshot of any new patient, even if the patient appears to be sleeping or “can’t likely understand a word we’re saying.”

If we all know that the brain is complex beyond our comprehension, and that any form of brain injury (like that which occurs in a major stroke) is almost impossible to quantify with total precision – especially at the early stages of recovery – then why would you even take the chance of uttering such dismal, discouraging words in the presence of a patient?

And even if you could argue that the left-brain – the language center, home of words, sentences, comprehension and syntax – has taken a serious hit, what about the right-brain, which is completely functional and processing all the vibes, emotions, feelings and less tangibles in the room?  That’s reason enough to mind your words.

So if you see me escorting yet another medical professional – be they a doctor, nurse, tech or therapist – out into the hallway for a “private conversation,” this is likely what we’re discussing.  Our family will not allow any of this kind of talk in the presence of our beloved.  And yes, you can be as brutally honest, transparent, pessimistic or bleak as you want to be to me with your predictions or projections.  I can take it.  My father shouldn’t have to.

Food Matters

While we appreciate your strict adherence to the dietary guidelines we have requested for our beloved, and we know you’re working within a very limited scope of accommodation, I am still mystified at what passes for hospital food these day for all other patients and visitors.  Greasy chicken, sausage, pork-and-beans, French fries, ham-soaked greens and vanilla pudding… for folks who are there specifically for clogged or damaged arteries, cancer or diabetes?  Seriously?  C’mon, people!  It’s 2012.  The science is there.  The studies are there.  The data is there.  The research is there.  The unequivocal proof is there!  Food matters.  The number one determinant of your overall health is the health of your blood, and the most influential factor in the health of your blood is what you eat and drink.  So again, food matters… especially during times of recovery and healing.

What’s this you say?  That the patients might not like healthier, high-fiber, plant-based food?  That they might complain?  I’ve got news for you; they already don’t like the food, and they’re already complaining!  So I would think – at least on your watch – you would want to ensure that the patients have every opportunity to heal, and every opportunity to allow their taste buds to adjust to food that is not riddled with salt, sugar and animal fat.   This way, they at least leave your hospital with a fighting chance that they can actually make some dietary changes and, in fact, will have a clue as to what those changes might look like.

Work Ethic Matters

On a personal note, I guess I’m pretty old school where the concept of “work ethic” is concerned.  I got this mainly from my dad, who I know got it from his dad (who was never once late for work as a welder in over 30 years of employment).  For me, every performance – no matter what the circumstances – is like the last one I’ll ever have.  And every day of hitting the drums, writing, preparation, or training, is like a religious practice.  That’s just the way it is.  You pay the piper and do your work, on any given day, whether you feel like it or not.

And yet, I understand how this concept might not translate to many jobs where folks are in survival mode, punching a clock to pay the bills.  STILL – if you’re being paid an honest wage for services rendered, you kind of have to step up to the plate and do your best, be professional, and go the proverbial extra mile for employer and/or customer… or step aside and let someone else step in who will.

This is especially true when performing a job or service that deals with someone’s health, well-being, or even life.  I understand that your job might mainly be a way for you to pay your bills and help support your family, but let me remind you of the sanctity of what you do everyday.  No matter what your job is in this arena, I believe you can influence and affect, to some degree, what a patient’s recovery experience is like… some of you to a significant degree.

So please, do your job and do it well.  Everyday.  (And I know many of you already do this.)  And if the chart says to give the patient his aspirin crushed in applesauce – and that requires that you take an extra 60 seconds to do it – please; crush that fucking pill.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of these ideas.  And may decades pass before I ever have to deal with you all again.

Best wishes,

Bobby Rock

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About Bobby Rock

Bobby Rock is a world renown drummer, the author of seven books, and a recognized health and fitness specialist with certifications in exercise, nutrition and meditation. He has recorded and toured with a variety of artists, released three CDs as a solo performer and is recognized as a top drumming educator. (He is currently touring with rock icon, Lita Ford.) Through speaking, writing and activism, Bobby remains committed to a number of animal and environmental causes. Bobby lives in Los Angeles.
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14 Responses to A Letter to the Medical Community

  1. Richard says:

    You DO have a way with words Bobby, keep on preachin cousin-in-law!

  2. Cjburton1@hotmail.com says:

    Bobby-

    Again wishing you and your family all the best. I’ve echoed many of your sentiments having gone through a recent hospitalization with my own father, It’s nice to get some validation. While I’m grateful for the people who devote their lives to care for others, there are very simple actions (and many major) that need to be re-examined. Thank you for all you contribute. Sending the best thoughts your way. CJ

  3. Parker says:

    Truth…truth…nothing but the truth. Sending love, light and prayers for healing to you and yours. xo

  4. cat says:

    Speedy recovery to your dad, Bobby…thinking of you and sending healing prayers.

  5. Laurie says:

    I hear you Bobby…I could right a book on this stuff as well! My degree is Healthcare Administration and I left the field out of frustration…I can say the best care I ever saw was when my dad was at the Austin Heart Hopital in intensive care. for 2+ weeks, 24/hr by-the-bedside care of excellent nurses & doctors DID use their words carefully…after he left ICU, it was all down hill…you have to be your families voice when needed…your family is in my thoughts….

  6. sister says:

    fucking AMEN!

  7. Jim Arnone says:

    Bobby….this so true Bro!! Hope all is well. Will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  8. Darla H says:

    Dear Bobby,

    Best wishes to your dad for a speedy recovery. I hope he is doing well and happy. Wishing your family a wonderful new year in 2012.

    I would now like to address some of your comments. I won’t deny that some of your comments are true about a small percentage of health care workers, but in my experience that is the exception not the rule. I admit I am somewhat taken aback by the “may decades pass before I have to deal with you all again,” which you then signed “best wishes.” I wish you could be a fly on the wall sometime, just to see the other side of the coin for a minute, because it does go both ways. When the rest of the world is home celebrating Christmas, Thanksgiving, or just a weekend, we are working – nights, holidays, weekends – most of us for a fraction of the salary that the rest of you make. In your profession, if someone comes up to you and is threatening, nasty, or inconsiderate, you have people in place to quickly make them disappear. Good for you, that’s the way it should be. Unfortunately we in healthcare are not so lucky and we’re required to deal with them anyway, the best that we can. I cannot tell you how many times I have been screamed at, called names, cursed, spit at, had things thrown at me, and even had one man take a swing at me (I am female), because someone didn’t get their way about something that simply wasn’t possible to give them. One of my colleagues who is African American had to endure a seething barrage of racial slurs in a crowded lobby because that patient’s physician was running behind with an emergent patient. Another of my co-workers actually contracted tuberculosis from an undiagnosed patient. I could write ten more pages, but my point is that I doubt that anyone on this forum would be willing to subject themselves to anything remotely similar to what we endure on a daily basis.

    I also hope that decades pass before you have to deal with any of us again, as that will mean that you and your family are healthy and doing well. But you might want to take minute out of your tirade and be thankful to those who treated your dad – they’re not perfect by any means, but they probably saved his life.

    Sincerely,
    Darla H.
    long time fan, fellow Houstonian, and Texas Medical Center worker

  9. Craig LeMay says:

    Bobby,

    I am saddened to hear your Dad is in the hospital. My deepest prayers go to your Dad, …for a speedy healthy recovery.

    Your words have always inspired me …and may they keep inspiring the others in need for inspiration.

    Love always , C. LeMay

  10. Marge & Joe says:

    our prays are with you ,your Dad and your Mom

  11. Leslie says:

    Dearest Bobby and Family,

    Here’s the hope that things are improving for you and yours.

    Having retired from the industry, I agree with you whole-heartedly about almost everything that you wrote. While I SHOULD BE ALL ABOUT A HEALTHIER DIET REGIMEN, I am not anywhere close to it.

    Everything else you said is spot on.

    People in the industry don’t understand that until they are on the patient side of it all.

    Words Do Matter.

    In 1984 My beloved father suffered a massive heart attack, which he did not recover from. Prior to this, I would never have thought about saying certain things in front of a patient or to a patients family, but the cold-heartedness of people can be devastating. Moments after they told us he had passed the Dr. stuffed an autopsy authorization in to my mothers hand. I ripped it up and told him to “?”off. The point being, no one takes in to consideration the power of words. Now I choose my words more carefully than ever before.

    Work Ethic Does Matter.

    I disagree with Darla, You and your family were all flies on the wall seeing the best and worst of what is in the Medical Community today. You came across great caregivers and some really shoddy ones. It is my hope that the Great over came the shoddy. As a Nurse especially YOU MUST ADVOCATE FOR THE PATIENT FIRST AND FOREMOST. Many times they have no one else to do this for them.

    Unfortunately, many in the industry only look at what they do as a PAYCHECK, rather than an honor and privilege to serve mankind.

    Blessings to you and your family

  12. Gary Foreman says:

    Bobby
    Once again, without question, unknowingly, you have inspired me. I pray for you dad a speedy recovery dispite all the obstacles. I empathize with you and your family.
    You touch on many subjects: The power of suggestion and the ability the mind to has to heal. Bridging science with metaphysical/spiritual world. Basic work ethics and duty as well as patient/client services.
    Ours is a fine culture but should never be too arrogant to observe and learn from other cultures. Things like basic personal care and a whole body concept for healing can and does do wonders beyond measure.
    You are speaking out against a well estblished, well defined pertol/chemical, medical/scientific, fully funded community. Keep speaking and I will stand with you on any front.
    Many blessings to you and your family my old friend.

  13. Hey Bobby, I hope your Father is on the road to recovery. Wishing you and your family all the best.

  14. Lynn Kelly says:

    Yes, Bob, your remarks are well placed. I agree with one of your fans here that there are many caring, empathetic, generous,wonderful people in the medical field, (Hey! I’m one too) but I also support you in saying there is room for improvement. Lots of room. Not only for care givers, but for all of the other components of healing you mention, also. And I agree, the food is often unpalatable, let alone unhealthy to the MAX! In small town hospitals the food is still quite good….they don’t have as much federal intervention there! Same thing with small schools. The lunchroom ‘ladies’ still decide what to serve!!!

    I hesitate to state unequivocally that federalism is the root of all evil, but federal interference in all aspects of our lives doesn’t always bring the best and/or highest result. This is a good instance. I’m sure they cook to some bureaucratic ‘goal’ that a true cook would never understand.

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