Dawn behind our home on Saturday. I should have known it would suggest good things were going to happen that day.
We were watching our daughter play in a volleyball tournament today. It was a big meet. 16 teams from across the state and outside the state. They had all come to our town to compete. The stands were packed by mid morning. Just before our daughter‘s team was to serve, from our side of the court, the referee held up play. Right in front of the stands across the court, a couple people looked like they were attempting to help someone up who was lying on the ground. It looked like they were having difficulty getting this person back up. Almost as soon as the person stood up though, and took a couple more steps, she went down hard. From our place in the stands, it looked like she went down very hard. Instantly, a group of people jumped up right where it happened and quickly surrounded the person.
Now my medical specialty is one where I see people who have been “everywhere“, done “everything“ and nothing has helped with their chronic, debilitating, life-changing health issues. It is not uncommon to hear, “you are my last hope“. Or, they are still healthy and just want to try and stay that way as they see other people around them getting terrible chronic diseases. Or terrible chronic diseases run in their families and they don’t want to end up getting any of them. Or they are a child starting to get a variety of health issues which the parents want to have go away and avoid medication use. It has been years since I did inpatient work that necessitated dealing with emergencies on a regular basis.
So like every doctor has been trained to do, I jumped up. Ran down the bleachers. Across the hardwood floor of the volleyball court. Announced that I was a doctor to the group surrounding the person, which we are always supposed to do, and started doing what any doctor would have done. The woman was bleeding from her nose and mouth due to falling onto her face. Otherwise, she was alert and oriented and had normal neurologic signs. The athletic trainer for the event had arrived just before I did. He asked if I wanted a stethoscope which he was carrying in his large emergency medical bag. I put the stethoscope on just like I have done nearly every day for the last 30 years. Not thinking about the significance of this simple act that was only to become evident later that day.
Fortunately, all turned out fine. The bleeding stopped quickly. She didn’t need to be transported to the hospital after the paramedics arrived. She was able to eventually get up with help and sit back down on the bleachers, waiting until her husband arrived to take her home. She was able to reassure her daughter, who was playing against my daughter’s team, that she was OK and would be fine. Her daughter went on to play so well despite what had occurred.
After about six more hours of volleyball, we eventually made our way home and my daughter was able to start relaxing. As we were recounting all the events of that very busy volleyball Saturday, my daughter said “Dad, I was so proud of you today.“ She related how, as she and her teammates watched me run across the gymnasium floor, one of her teammates said “go Doc Billy“. But then, apparently as I put on the stethoscope, another one of my daughter’s teammates and her best friend turned to her and also said “go Doc Billy“. Her best friend is the one who gave me this nickname three years ago. My daughter responded by saying “sometimes heroes don’t wear capes. Sometimes they wear Patagonia“
As parents, we only want the best for our children. As they become the wonderful human beings we always hoped they would become, we are so proud of them. As they demonstrate a caring for others and the world around them, we are so proud of them. Through all the trials and tribulations of life we are there for them.
As a parent, what a rare gift I was given by my daughter today. Simply by doing the same thing I have done thousands of times before. But this time, I was doing something which in my daughters eyes, was truly admirable. Something that made her so proud. What a wonderful day it was.