It’s official. It’s mutual. It’s love.

A patient called a while back to make an appointment and left a message on our voicemail. She said something really nice. She said: “the sliding scale is love in action.” We’ve been open almost six months now, and the honeymoon is in full swing. I just love our patients, and I know the feeling is mutual. I can tell because they bring fruit.

Chico is a city surrounded by orchards – walnuts, almonds, and lots of fruit trees. I’ve lived here a year now, and as the fall equinox rolls around again, I’m aware how much the seasons here are marked by each new harvest: we have lovely sweet little mandarins all winter, and then the strawberries come out and last a good long while, and then the stone fruits – cherries, then later on plums, peaches, and nectarines. Now the figs are ready to be appreciated for all their decadence. (BRB, I need to go to the kitchen)

Four quarts of fresh-picked figs in a paper bag. That’s what our patients gave us Wednesday night, at the end of a long and successful free day event. I had just two nappers left at 6:58, and I sent a text to my business partner saying “I’m going to call this one at 29 txs for the day.” And then I looked up and in walked #30, 31, 32, and 33. I just grinned and ushered them into the treatment room. Round about quarter to nine, while they were enjoying the last of the muffins and tea in the reception room, is when the bag of figs showed up. It was our second gift of fruit in a week. The other day a patient brought me a melon from her garden. I love our patients. And love is a verb. Let me tell you more.

Very early on, when we were seeing – oh, about ten patients a week, a young man dropped in to the clinic and he said exactly this “I am a prince. Money is no object. If I give you a lot of money, can I have a private treatment?” No kidding. That happened. I just kind of giggled inside while I explained how it works, and that, in our community space, he would get the very best treatment possible. He was satisfied and I led him in to the (empty anyway) treatment room to find a recliner. Maybe it was the word “prince” that started it, but I just had to laugh at finding myself in the middle of what sounded like a fairy tale. Like a children’s book with a morality lesson to deliver. Something about temptation, or integrity, or the like. I still giggle thinking about timing, about the challenge to the sliding scale and the group treatment concept. It only got funnier when his check bounced.

But the story’s not over.

Several months later, he returned, cash in hand, to make good on the check. He gave a sincere apology and a perfectly satisfying explanation. Very princely behavior, and very sweet, too. He left and said he’d be back in for treatment soon. Has he been back? No, but the story’s not over yet.

Another one: A few weeks ago I treated a patient for some musculoskeletal pain. She came for just one treatment, so I never really knew whether I’d done a good job for her or not. I figured probably not, since she didn’t re-schedule. I decided that story was over, and I felt badly about it. Then, on a busy shift recently she dropped in. When she got settled in, I went over to check in, and after a few preliminaries I learned what she had come in for that day. She wanted help with stress and insomnia. Her mother had died. Yesterday. And today, she wanted to be - - in our clinic. I was touched and honored. I was reminded again of the finality of death – and only of death – and that our stories with one another are not over until they’re really, truly over. Until then, we have time to keep adding to the stories of our relationships.

Last one: We had a patient with hip and sciatic pain who came in regularly – twice a week for maybe 15 treatments. Each time, we would make more or less progress. Sometimes she would get out of the chair ecstatic at the pain relief. Other times, she’d feel the pain again right away when she put weight on it. We tried so much – we did Skip’s “wolverine,” we did GB channel local work, we had her walk around with LingGu/DaBai in… but we were never able to fully resolve the pain for her. She called one day to cancel her next appointment, and basically to say goodbye. She said she felt like she made some progress with us, but it had stalled, and she wanted to try other things. That she appreciated all the work and attention we put into her treatment. It was a pretty classic “It’s not you, it’s me” kind of call. I so appreciated her willingness to talk it through, and especially respected the courage it takes to engage so fully, even when things aren’t happy and hopeful anymore.

It’s difficult, but I’m trying to remember that the story is not over yet.

I’m starting to think that love as a verb – love in action – is leaving the stories open. I’m trying to remember that the meaning I decide on for any event – a bounced check, a one-and-done, an abandoned course of treatment – is just a guess. I’m working on expanding my sense of time and suspending judgment for longer and longer. When my ego asks: “How did it go?” I’m hoping love will answer: “I don’t know, dear. Not yet. Please just focus on your next patient now, okay?” That’s love in action.

And, of course, love brings fruit.

This story was posted on March 1 2012 by MichelleRivers.

Comments

  • No comments yet. How would you like to be the first?

Add your 2 cents!

You must be logged in to comment on the blog.


Who Likes This:

  • estermarie
  • mollyfread
  • Naomi
  • bru
  • Tom Hirons

Featured Events

-- placeholder --

Who's been POCAing lately.

  • OpenSourceEverything commented on the blog post 'New POCA Tech FAQs' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, March 13, 2019
  • urbanapuncture commented on the blog post 'Fatphobia Part 3: Some Thoughts about Diet Culture and Talking to Patients' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, March 13, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'The Acupuncture Profession has 99 problems, but NADA ain’t one of them.' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, March 12, 2019
  • OpenSourceEverything commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Two: Trouble' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, March 11, 2019
  • OpenSourceEverything commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Too Sexy for This Work?' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, March 11, 2019
  • urbanapuncture commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Poor People's Priorities' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, February 20, 2019
  • Lisafer commented on the blog post 'Stone Soup and Social Containers' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, February 13, 2019
  • Nityamo commented on the blog post 'POCA Clinic Member Changes' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, February 13, 2019
  • weedyknees commented on the blog post 'Stone Soup and Social Containers' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, February 13, 2019
  • urbanapuncture commented on the blog post 'Stone Soup and Social Containers' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, February 06, 2019
  • swiggs commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Too Sexy for This Work?' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, February 05, 2019
  • urbanapuncture commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Too Sexy for This Work?' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, February 04, 2019
  • monkeyacupunk commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Too Sexy for This Work?' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 31, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'POCA Clinic Member Changes' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, January 29, 2019
  • Bob W commented on the blog post 'POCA Clinic Member Changes' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 24, 2019
  • Spartacus commented on the blog post 'POCA Clinic Member Changes' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 24, 2019
  • mollyfread commented on the blog post 'POCA Clinic Member Changes' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 24, 2019
  • Bob W commented on the blog post 'POCA Clinic Member Changes' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, January 23, 2019
  • mcandela55 commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Poor People's Priorities' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, January 23, 2019
  • mcandela55 commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, January 23, 2019
  • mcandela55 commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture: Part Four, Stamina' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, January 23, 2019
  • ewolfk commented on the blog post 'POCA Clinic Member Changes' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, January 23, 2019
  • NicoleManiez commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Poor People's Priorities' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, January 22, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Poor People's Priorities' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 17, 2019
  • swiggs commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Poor People's Priorities' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 17, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'The Acupuncture Profession has 99 problems, but NADA ain’t one of them.' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 17, 2019
  • Moses.C commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Poor People's Priorities' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, January 14, 2019
  • OpenSourceEverything commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture: Part Four, Stamina' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, January 14, 2019
  • teatree commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Three: Hope' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Sunday, January 13, 2019
  • Presence_CA commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Poor People's Priorities' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Saturday, January 12, 2019
  • CPMike commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture: Part Four, Stamina' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 10, 2019
  • ChrisRogers commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 10, 2019
  • whitney commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, January 09, 2019
  • keithananda commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture: Part Four, Stamina' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, January 09, 2019
  • ellengrover commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, January 08, 2019
  • tatyana commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, January 08, 2019
  • Moses.C commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, January 07, 2019
  • Jess B commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, January 07, 2019
  • ewolfk commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, January 07, 2019
  • Justine commented on the blog post 'Public Service Announcement: POCA and Ear Acupuncture!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 03, 2019
  • sivesind commented on the blog post 'Public Service Announcement: POCA and Ear Acupuncture!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Sunday, December 30, 2018
  • Lisafer commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Three: Hope' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, December 28, 2018
  • Lisafer commented on the blog post 'Here's to Open Sourcing: Modern Acupuncture, Part One' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, December 28, 2018
  • keithananda commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Three: Hope' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, December 27, 2018
  • keithananda commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Three: Hope' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, December 27, 2018
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Three: Hope' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, December 26, 2018
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'The Acupuncture Profession has 99 problems, but NADA ain’t one of them.' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, December 25, 2018
  • crismonteiro commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Three: Hope' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, December 25, 2018
  • ewolfk commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Two: Trouble' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, December 24, 2018
  • Spartacus commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Two: Trouble' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Sunday, December 23, 2018