Separating the wheat from the chaff

One of the truths about life that Re-booters recognize is that stuff happens. It just does. Everyday, all the time; not to the same person, of course, but Re-booters have seen enough to understand that despite the best of intentions or pre-planning things can go awry because people mess up.


It’s what you do afterwards that separates the wheat from the chaff.


Take me for instance: I was at the doctor’s office this afternoon to get a shot. The MD warned me that the shot would hurt and I thought I was prepared. Alas, the piercing of some particularly sensitive and exposed flesh hurt so much, my leg reflexively moved and the doctor stabbed herself with the needle. She was angry and made her anger clear to me and said that, “now blood will have to be taken.”


I felt horrible about what happened. I immediately apologized, but the doctor’s anger shocked me and made everything worse—to have an authority figure like a doctor be angry about something reflexive–I began to cry. It was horribly upsetting. To be fair, the doctor did apologize for “losing her cool,” and then suggested we make a second attempt at the shot (which was successful), but once she left the room, I never saw her again. I apologized to the nurse and the administrator who reassured me that it was one of the risks of the trade and that it did happen on occasion. Still, I continued to tear up and apologize for doing something I hadn’t meant to do.


It was a strange experience. While paperwork was completed for my blood to be drawn—to confirm I don’t have certain conditions—I felt like I was waiting outside of the principal’s office and struggled to ratchet down my own distress level. The fact that I never saw the MD again made me feel worse; I know that her reaction was totally human—I don’t blame her for being angry, but her response impacted me. After she left, the nurse kindly said, “It’s ok, we’re trained for this and you’re not. It happens.”


So, back to the wheat and the chaff. From my adult perspective, I know that my leg jerk was a reflex—despite being warned that the shot would hurt—I moved unintentionally. I recognize, too, that it makes sense I’d feel bad that the MD stabbed herself, but it is a known risk when you are a medical professional, no matter how much you’ve warned the patient to remain still. So, I am counseling myself against overreacting and to remain calm about something I didn’t mean to do and had little control over.


At the same time, I need to move past the shock I experienced when a doctor dropped her professional mask and reacted strongly to unanticipated pain. She recovered, apologized, and got on with the task at hand. It does no good for her to continue to be angry with me (and I don’t assume she is) nor for me to continue to be upset with myself or with her for expressing momentary anger. She did just call to follow up to make sure I was ok, so that was nice. I apologized again and she apologized for her reaction. We both must move on. This is what I mean by separating the wheat from the chaff.


Non-rebooters might hang onto their anger or their tears or what-have-you from this, despite the fact that it was clearly unintentional and impersonal. What I struggle with is what happens next? Do I return to this MD? Would she even want me as her patient anymore? What is the mature line with professionalism in a situation such as this? I suppose, given that she did make the effort to call me, I probably should return as a patient, but having been yelled at by an authority figure in such a power-disparity relationship is upsetting.


But similar pantomimes could be played out between parents and children, bosses and subordinates, first responders and the helpless, pet owners and pets, or even in situations of equal footing: spouses, friends, colleagues. People mess up, that’s what they do. We’re all human. It’s this recognition that helps us cultivate a greater patience and understanding when proceeding through our lives.


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