Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Today I thought I would write a blog about swimming and how I may have gotten a *weeee bit* out of swim shape the past 2 weeks (oops) and how I have a swim race coming up, or perhaps give an update on my wayward mouth or even tell you about how we need a new roof despite the fact that we put on a new roof when we moved into our house 7 years ago (ie: WE SHOULD NOT NEED A NEW ROOF AGAIN).

But instead, I think I'll blog about what's really on my mind - the last patient I saw today before I left work. 

This patient was the dreaded 4 pm consult.  ARGH!  Why must they put in the consult JUST as I was changing my shoes and heading out the door?  And of course the patient was being discharged today so I couldn't leave it until tomorrow.  Oh...and the patient was on 12 South which is literally THE farthest hospital unit away from our office.  It's like a 45 minute walk (okay, more like 15...but that's just one way!).  Crap.

But of course like the dutiful little dietitian that I am, I put my lab coat back on and started my trek towards the dreaded 12S 4 pm consult.

When I started to read the patient's chart, a wave of humility washed over me.  I was embarrassed for having grumbled about the walk over.  And I said a quick prayer for the patient like I almost always do for most of the patients I see. 

This man has pancreatic cancer and there isn't much the surgeons are able to do for him.  He's basically going home to die.  Which really is quite a normal scenario for the patient population I work with - I cover surgical oncology after all!  But this man seemed so different for me.  His jaundiced eyes and gaunt figure immediately told me of how advanced his disease was.  He was older but still, you could tell that he once was a strong, sturdy, good looking man.  He was a football coach and told me he planned on being on the field as much as possible this fall.  He told me how his wife just lost her battle with liver cancer this past May.  About how his son was going through a bad divorce and he was worried for him.  I can't even remember now if we talked about nutrition (not much to talk about, he can't really eat).  He did tell me that as long as he could keep it down, he still planned on his nightly ritual of an ounce of scotch on ice. 

It's honestly a story I've heard time and time again but today the dreaded 12S 4 pm consult helped me to find new perspective, a lesson that I need to be re-taught over and over again.  That patient helped me to understand that needing a new roof or swimming a little slower than I'd like or having a bit of a toothache really isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things.  It's such a simple, simple lesson.  But nevertheless, I think I sometimes let the worries of life crowd me over and pen me in.  I'm thankful God has put me in the position that I'm in so that it's so easy to gain new perspective, really any day I walk through those hospital doors.

Here's to finding true perspective in life and letting go of the little things! 


  1. Oh Beth, I know, every day i am thankful that my job makes me remember all the good in my life, even if i dont usually think that lately my life has been too good to me:) Thanks for sharing. I hope your root canal went ok.

  2. Great blog and I totally understand this. On Monday I spent my day at my Grandma's hospice. She was in the lunch room when I arrived. Now, while my G-ma is 90, she is in EXCELLENT health and as sharp as a tack. She had a back issue that got infected/pneumonia, etc and needed extra help.

    I sat at the lunch table with her in her wheelchair. She could not lift up her fork to eat, lift up her coffee mug and I could tell she was humiliated and frustrated.

    I fought back EVERY TEAR in my body and excused myself - gathered my thoughts in the bathroom and said to myself, "THIS is real life, Jenny, get on with it."

    I went back - and fed my grandma for 90 minutes (she won't eat either) and did everything I could to make her feel like her normal, strong self.

    And, one of the old ladies (who could talk) at the table said to me, "Now, aren't you glad you are young and healthy?"

    And, there I was feeling old at 41 years! PLEASE. I got back to my car after being there all day and cried and cried.

    Perspective is the best for us triathletes in more ways than one.

  3. First of all Beth, I could not do your job, way too rough for me. This entry is so relevant in my life right now. Though I kept my entry about the parasite somewhat humorous, I had some pretty dark days mentally and physically. The past two weeks have made me realize good health is so much more important than good fitness. I'm glad that I can choose to be fit, but I'm grateful that the guy upstairs allows me to be healthy for the past 41 years. And that I don't know what my future health holds for me, so I try and cherish each day that I wake up, feel good, and am able to do the things I love. I'm learning not to worry but instead have faith that there is a plan for me and until then, I will be thankful and take it one day at a time. I like you Beth Shutt!

  4. got me on this one. Brings up a lot of memories of before my father passed. This man is just as lucky to have met you as you are to have met him.

    You are strong, fit, beautiful and have it in perspective.

    Thanks for the post!


  5. Thanks for sharing this Beth! Perspective is something I struggle with when a race or workout doesn't go the way I wanted it to... good food for thought going into MusselMan this weekend.

    Hope you're recovering from the root canal!!