Saturday, November 15, 2014

Impersonal Training

I recently decided to sign up for the paid services of a Personal Trainer at the fitness center I use so that I could strengthen neglected parts of my body.

I ended up with a competent man who could only be called an Impersonal Trainer. Like so many people I encounter in the health field, he had no "people skills."  He never called me by name or tried to assess my overall ability to do some of the stretches he proposed. And he seemed to be in a hurry. His first comment to me, in the way of personal conversation, concerned how busy he was that week.

And when I saw him later, he didn't bother to ask how I was doing with the new program he had demonstrated because he apparently didn't remember me.

Why do such people enter the healthcare professions?  They are knowledgeable and probably do good work but have no training in what used to be called "the bedside manner." Many seem to dislike working with people!  Luckily, my family doctor and dentist not only refer to me by name but look at me, listen, and talk with me without any sense of rush. They are the models of how medical practitioners should be, but they are the exception.

Most of the technical aides and other doctors I encounter prefer to look at their charts or computer versions of my profile rather than at me. They rarely call me by name; if they do, they make minimal eye contact. They do not pay enough attention to me to treat me as a person.

You might excuse this as shyness, yet there is no excuse for poor manners. You might say everyone is overworked, with never enough time to devote to the person being treated. Yet, in the highly personal area of healthcare, when one must learn about and treat another's body, an awareness of the sensitivity of such a situation should call up some measure of respect--or at least simulated caring.

Rushing is, for me, a sign of disrespect: it tells me that the other person's "agenda" is much more important than I am, and it adds to the anxiety involved in any medical visit--even for personal training at a gym.  Am I not worth slowing down for--even for a few minutes?  Does the money I am spending not warrant some real attention?

I cannot, unfortunately, tell the Impersonal Trainer I met that he is incompetent or complain to his superiors since he is otherwise knowledgeable and well-trained. The session we had was useful.

But, like so many others in his profession, he does not know that anyone in the healing professions should do more than provide information: they care about people.  That should be, in a perfect world, the reason therapists, nurses, trainers, and doctors enter the medical field.

But this is not a perfect world. I just don't like being reminded how imperfect it is quite so often.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The future of football

In 1583, Philip Stubbes described the English forerunner of American football as "rather a bloody and murdering practice than a fellowly sport or pastime." He went on to catalog the injuries of the players:  "sometimes their necks are broken, sometimes their backs, sometimes their legs, sometimes their arms. .  .sometimes their noses gush out with blood" and then goes on, in typical Renaissance style, to pile on more disasters that result from this game:  envy, malice, hatred, fighting, brawling, etc.

He doesn't mention in his long list the thing that bothers me and many others about the sport today: head injuries.  Young men in high school and college, especially, whose bodies are still growing, are subject to life-threatening concussions. The only way this will ever stop is if mothers (as well as dads) forbid their sons to participate. Universities like mine that rely on football to generate alumni support will eventually have to find other means.  This won't come any time soon!

When I bring up the violence of football to certain passionate fans of the game here in Florida, where it is almost a religion, they agree with me, and yet, as smokers used to do when reminded of the dangers of tobacco, maintain the status quo by supporting the bloody game.

In a New York Times piece today by David Leonhardt, I learn that in blue America--those urban areas with heavily Democratic voters and better educated citizens--the number of boys playing high school football is down 15 percent in certain states over the past six years. The decline in Colorado: 14 percent. And 8 percent in Mass. and Maryland.

Of course, every part of America still watches football, but it is hopeful to read in this brief piece that sometimes education does bring enlightenment and that the sons of thinking people are gradually being saved from the violence of the gridiron.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Peace of mind

A brief quotation, courtesy of Richard Rohr, the Franciscan priest, author and speaker, that is apt for this blog:

  ". . .peace of mind is a complete misnomer.  When you are in your mind, you are never at peace, and when you are at peace, you are never in your mind but in a much larger, unified field."