Remember the Good Patients

I spent two days this last week in a Dale Carnegie: The Leader in You class, led by a phenomenal lady who at one point in her life had been invited to his office and personally thanked by Lee Iacocca for training his directors. We focused on topics such as leadership goals, valuing differences, managing stress, and coaching. On the first day, we also touched upon something called an “innerview,” a way to get to know the people you work with better. After class discussion, we were then challenged to go home and innerview one person of our choice. The only person I’d end up seeing that night was Erica, and I didn’t think Ella would really be up for a longer father/daughter conversation than normal. Of course, after almost five years together, I believed it’d be pointless to have this innerview with my wife because I already knew everything about her. I’m glad that thought didn’t stop me because I couldn’t have been more wrong in my assumption. 

Erica is one of the best people I’ve ever met. As a nurse assistant working her way up to one day becoming a nurse practitioner, she has one of the biggest hearts a person can have towards all her patients. Even the ones easily irritable, making sure they all get above and beyond the proper care.

After she got home and changed out of her scrubs full of hospital smells, I asked her the typical question of how her day went. She told me it was really busy and that she didn’t get much time for breaks and rest. The usual strenuous day due to a hospital’s lack of scheduling proper patient-to-nurse ratios. 

After a few of Erica’s quick stories about her current patients, I asked her if she had a patient she’s cared for that stuck out most in her mind and why. To my surprise, even from all the wild and crazy stories she’s told me, she couldn’t think of one. I asked her the question again thinking maybe she needed a little more time to consider it. After a few seconds of silence, she simply responded, “I remember all the good patients.”

 Of the hundreds and hundreds of patients my wife has had in the three years of her working at the hospital, she remembers the good patients. Of all the incontinent, deranged, suicidal, and even murderous individuals she’s dealt with who have criticized her or have been entirely ungrateful of her care, she remembers the good patients. I was in complete awe of my wife. I knew she was a positive woman, but this took my appreciation and love of her to a whole new level. I had learned something new about the woman I spend every day with.

Later that night Erica stayed up studying for an exam she had the next day. I crawled into bed while she was out in the living room, her nose in her studies, and I started my own small homework task to read “Chapter 15: Learning Not to Worry” of The Leader In You for our second day’s training session. A few pages in I came across a quote from singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka that said, “Take each day as a gift. Try to live with the good and the bad, looking more at the good.” At this point my jaw just dropped. Again, I knew my wife was a great person, that’s one of the reasons why I married her. But, I didn’t know she was this great. Here’s a woman who works with some of the worst patients in healthcare, works under the unimaginable stress of a trauma floor, and is only looking at the good of it all. My wife is a true leader, exactly someone I want to be like.

Some characteristics of a great leader

In my two day Dale Carnegie class, we learned some of the characteristics a great leader should have. Erica embodies every single one of these. She sets the bar high in the nursing field where leadership is important. It’s hard to carry criticism with a gentle tone, to manage stress, and to help coach patients through the healing process even when they are mad at the world the way that Erica and most nurses do. So to all the nurses in the field, thank you. Thank you for taking care of us when we most need it, and for lifting us up when we may be at our lowest. You are some of the best leaders In this world. And to my wife, thank you for giving me reason to love you more each and every day and always surprising me with new things. For making me want to be a better person, and for sharing all your amazing characteristics with the many people you come into contact with. 


Be a Bean

Beans are the only cultivated plants that help to improve and enrich the soil as they grow rather than exhaust all of the nutrients. So, even the tallest stalks can grow from the tiniest of beans.

My name is Ella. I’m a full grown twenty-one-year-old. Full grown for me is a meager fifty pounds. On top of my small stature is an oversized chest and a tiny head. My neck skin sags in excess, and my mom and dad tell me that it’s because my head never grew into my skin.

My hair is black, already peppered with a few spots of white. I don’t wear makeup or paint my nails, but I sometimes wear flowers on my necklace to make me feel better about my appearance. I’m afraid of mirrors because of the reflection I see. Although, everyone tends to tell me how cute my flowers are when I walk through the mall. 

Society tells me that I should have perfect teeth, perfect posture, a feminine walk, great hair, and the ideal body to be someone great. To win awards and be somebody, I must come from a long bloodline of great athletes or money. To be educated, I must get the most expensive schooling around. To make a difference, I must be famous.


My name is Bean. I’m a full grown three-year-old Labrador mix. Size does not matter to me. My saggy skin flops all around as I happily run and play, and my tiny head is full of endless dreams. Not much can get me down and depressed, and I’m comfortable in my excess skin. I love who I am.

My hair is black. It covers every inch of my body with a few random spots of white thrown in. These patches make me unique. They help distinguish me from other dogs who have black hair. My mom and dad put flowers on my collar when we go to the mall because it makes people stop and smile. I do not care about my appearance because making people smile is more important. Smiling people make my tail wag faster than anything else.

 The society I live in does not discriminate. All breeds are my friends, and all mutts are just as equal as the purebreds. I do not need awards or money. Material things do not matter to me, unless it’s food. I do not need the most expensive schooling and do not understand the concept of social status. To make a difference in just one person’s life and to be loved by just a few people is all I need. 

My name is Ella Bean. We are all souls of multiple characters. Some of us timid, easily startled, and not the most comfortable with who we are. But, we all have a Bean growing inside of us with the ability and ambition to make an impact. We all have dreams and the desire to be our best, and to make the world a better place. Don’t be the weed that sucks the nutrients from the soil, preventing the flowers from blooming around you. Improve and enrich the lives closest to you. Make a difference. Be the Bean within you.