The Power Of Observation

The Power Of Observation

I was born in rural Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We had a large spring pond right in our front yard. That area of North Carolina was experiencing a long drought and because of that animals would frequently visit our little pond. The neighbors’ dairy cows would bust through their fence to get to the water, we’d wake up to see dozens of cows circling the pond. Wild animals would sneak out of the woods for a drink. It was common to see wild boars and other small mammals, as well as all sorts of reptiles. Then there were the turtles. Pond turtles, box turtles, we even had a huge snapping turtle living in the pond. It was in these times that I discovered my love for animals and nature. As a little kid I was always dragging home turtles, garden snakes, and different types of insects in boxes, or small fish in buckets and pails of water. I was always trying to bring something home and keep it alive, fascinated with how these creatures behaved.

By the time I was ten my mother and I had moved to Cambridge and life became more city and less country. My fascination with animals continued for years. At eleven years old I found myself walking into Big Fish, Little Fish, the neighborhood pet store, almost every day. Big Fish, Little Fish was owned by a man named David and had opened in the early seventies (in fact, it’s still open today). David had a policy against children in the store without an adult and would promptly kick me out, but that didn’t stop me from coming back the next day. Other employees were more tolerant and let me come in, look at the fish tanks, and ask them questions. At the time I was working odd jobs around the neighborhood, shoveling snow, washing cars, racking leaves, etc. Eventually I saved up one hundred dollars and walked straight into Big Fish, Little Fish. David practically greeted me at the door, “I told you not to come back alone. You want to buy something, come back with your parents”. I held up my hand with the crumbled bills

“Are you sure you want me to leave?” Suddenly, I was David’s best friend. I proceeded to buy a thirteen-gallon aquarium, filter, heater, hood, and gravel. The whole thing came out to exactly ninety-nine dollars. I carried my little fish tank home and within the year I was working at the store. I worked at Big Fish, Little Fish for the last few years of grade school and all through high school. I worked after school, as well as Saturdays and Sundays. My job was to keep all the animals clean and healthy. I developed a sort of sixth sense when it came to noticing distress in animals. I learned how to read the signs of disfunction in goldfish, hamsters, snakes, and birds.

Years later these observation skills would come in handy as I made my way through school. My teachers taught us that 90% of your diagnosis comes from patient observation. That, partnered with patient history, informs the diagnostic process and care moving forward. Sadly, in today’s health care most patients share that they feel unheard and rushed by their doctors.

Because of this it becomes imperative to learn how to interact with doctors in a way that shows the doctors that YOU expect clear treatment with defined outcomes. Ask yourself:

  • Do I feel heard?
  • Do I feel respected?
  • Have the treatments been explained to me in a way that I am comfortable with them?

If not, then bring up these points with your doctor after all they work for YOU. I hope you’ve enjoyed this investigated observation, nature, and a little of my youth. Hope you’ll join us again next time. Be Well