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An Editor’s Invitation: Turning Over a New Leaf

At one time or other, we’d all like to turn over a new leaf.

Which leaf would you choose right now, in 2020, and which have you chosen in the past?

For now, I would choose the leaf that has me feeling bad whenever I run late seeing patients–which is always–because I haven’t figured out how to keep a visit within the 20-minute slot that’s been allotted.

Once upon a time that new leaf would have been learning how to finish a visit in 20 minutes, but that leaf seemed frozen in place. I just couldn’t flip it over, no matter how I tried. (And maybe, to be honest, I didn’t try as hard as I might because the trying felt so awful.)

So now I’d rather try to accept my strengths and limitations, which also means accepting the irritation that some patients express when I’ve made them wait.

If I want my patients to accept me as I am, shouldn’t I do the same for them? Much as I’d like all my patients to eat healthier, get more exercise, remember to take all their pills every day and keep all their appointments, I know that for some of them, this is a real challenge–for many reasons.

So my job is to stay patiently involved as they work at finding ways to take better care of themselves. And often it does happen: The stars align, a gust of wind comes along and–whoosh!–a leaf turns and a change happens.

I’ve had more than one patient quit smoking after years of seeming inaction.

I also have a number still in process, still thinking–or studiously not thinking–about it. And I try to stay engaged, reminding myself to remain hopeful.

How about you?

Are you planning to turn over a new leaf? Or have you already done so?

And what about the people you care for–are they in the process of making changes?

Tell us about it in this month’s More Voices–Turning Over a New Leaf.

Paul Gross
New Rochelle, NY