Tag Archives: I Saw a Patient Today

Wisdom From a Patient

I’ve decided over the last several years that there is a wealth of wisdom in my patients. They each have a story that is sometimes and example of how not to live. More often, however, it is one packed with examples of how to live well and live productively, even without much in the way of resources. How to live a life of value in this community while the odds are stacked against them.


Most of their stories are not of actions in the “cure for cancer” category, but of lives of principle lived quietly, which may have positively affected just a few – or even a single individual. If I didn’t take the time occasionally to stop and get to personally know patients, (despite the ever increasing medical documentation requirements placed on doctors), I would have missed a great deal of wisdom and inspiration. In fact, I sort of regret not starting sooner.


Many of these stories involve long term difficulties or illness. An almost excessively cheerful patient I saw a few years ago was a survivor of the Holocaust as a 6 year old. Her stories were horrifying, so it was hard for me to reconcile her joy with her past. She told me our attitudes are choices, while our circumstances may not be. She chose not to let her past define how she lived her life each day, other than to use the lessons learned effectively. One of my favorite preachers has said that most of us spend too much time listening to ourselves and not enough time talking to ourselves.


I asked her to come in at lunch to speak to our staff, to which she graciously agreed. I think that all of us benefited immensely. She gave us some history, some philosophy, some encouragement, and some advice. What I left with was that one of the most engaging people I’ve ever met came with a story that could have made her bitter, angry, and negative. She’s gone now, but I’m better for having known her.


Dr. Hatcher is one of the podiatrists at Raleigh Foot & Ankle Center. The podiatrists at Raleigh Foot & Ankle Center are able to help you with all of your foot and ankle problems and needs. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Hatcher or one of the other doctors in our office, call our office at (919) 850-9111 or request an appointment on our website.

I Saw a Patient Today…

Don't spend too much of today in yesterday.

I saw a patient today who came in for a chronic ingrown toenail. When we began to go over her medical history, it turned out that she had one particular episode about 20 years ago, which she seems never to have gotten over. This was a surgical procedure which she felt did not turn out exactly as she had wanted. Unfortunately, she could not seem to get past this event even though it was 20 years in the past. It almost seems as if every problem she had in the present was somehow related to that problem in the past. In taking her medical history, I just could not seem to get past this issue with her. Surprisingly, this is not uncommon. For this reason I have installed a little sign in each of my treatment rooms that says, “Don’t spend too much of today in yesterday”.

We all have limits in our lives. Each of us has a limited amount of money, time, physical energy, and even emotional energy. I have found that if we spend too much of this capital in the past, we do not have it available when we need it in the present. For example, if we have spent all of our money in the past, we will not have it when we need it for future uncertain events. In the same way, if we spend all of our emotional energy on trying to resolve an issue from the past, which we can actually never do, then we do not have that energy available to help us when something new comes up.

I have often suggested to my patients that they plan a session where they talk to me or some other trusted person as much as they want to about the past event trying to cover it in as much detail as possible. I tell them to go into as much detail as they feel is necessary, but at the end of that conversation, we will agree not discuss it again. It is then a good idea for them to not allow their mind to return to that event again. This is not easy to do, but one of my favorite preachers used to say that we spend too much time listening to ourselves and not enough talking to ourselves.

If we can accomplish totally putting these types of events behind us, and yes, even forgiving those who are associated with it, then our present lives will improve immeasurably and we will then have all of our available energies to address present problems and concerns, rather than just a portion of it.

I had one patient years ago who dropped by several months following just such a conversation and said that because of putting her particular traumatic event behind her that life had, after 20 years, taken a very positive turn. I know that this has worked for me and perhaps it may for you as well.

I Saw a Patient Today…

Elderly Patient

I saw a patient today and she was exhausted. Not for the usual reasons mind you, but because of a commitment she made 55 years ago. Her husband of those years has ALS and she does pretty much everything for him. It’s been going on for a long time and though she is pretty much worn out, she troops on. Her heel pain hasn’t made it easier so I’m trying to do my little part to help both of them by helping her feet get better.

It’s wonderful to see someone who stands by their word for that long.

I’ll bet she’ll never know how encouraging her actions are to those around her and to me. I want to be a person of my word, even though it might cost me a lot. I hope you do too.


To find out more about ALS or to find out how you can help support the cause, go to www.alsa.org.
Check out Raleigh Foot & Ankle Center’s #ALSicebucketchallenge on our Facebook page.Check back this week to see our doctors getting dunked with ice!


I Saw a Patient Today… is a monthly feature by Dr. Robert Hatcher. Check back the last week of each month to hear his insights and stories of what he learns from patients at the office. Let us know what you think!