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    Tuesday's Thoughts From Inside The Quotation Marks

    We've all seen them, read them and even shared them. When they're presented to us at just the right time we, undoubtedly, have been inspired by them. What I'm talking about is the ever popular motivational quote.

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    They seem to be popping up everywhere. Not only have I spotted them on the Internet, but also on shirts, decorative wood plaques, bumper stickers, water bottles and even an occasional billboard. Things like, “Keep calm and...” “Don't wait...” “Don't quit...” “Just before sunrise...” “Life is...” or "Happiness is..." I'm sure you have an idea what they're suggesting without me having to fill in the blanks.

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    I recently came upon one that read, "Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does." I believe we can come to a common consensus regarding the message this quote is trying to convey. Something like being positive does make a difference or maybe it refers to a job or task that despite being menial will make a difference in someone's life. All in all its intent is to inspire and make us feel good about ourselves.

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    However, has anyone wondered what happens when these quotes are taken out of context and ultimately misinterpreted? Basically, fall into the hands of those whom it wasn't intended for? For instance, do you think that motto, "Just do it," is being whispered by the person who's about to set off a bomb? How about this quote for a bank robber, "Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will." The dirty politician, "Difficulties break some men, but make others," or maybe the brutal dictator, "...you have no boundaries in what you can achieve in life!"

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    Even though they're written with good intentions, I'm sure you can see the way these quotes can be misunderstood. Unfortunately, it's too cumbersome to place an asterisk and fill out the exceptions. Then again maybe the small print is needed to remind us how to behave when inspiration is found in such words.

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    Years ago I remember there was a book or maybe it was advice that promoted being rude or overly forceful in order to get what you want. This brings such sayings to light as, "If you're not actively involved in getting what you want, you don't really want it," or "Don't take no for an answer."

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    I don't know if you've seen it too, but I feel there's been an increasing inclination for people to be rude and overtly challenging. I've witnessed it at restaurants, retail stores and even gas stations. Customers demanding a product that's not there, expecting something for next to nothing or maybe given to them for free or why can't they have it, “my way.” Have we really become a nation burgeoning with self importance? I'd like to think that our society values respect and working together for the greater good, but my hopes for such beliefs have been devoured by the reality of current thinking.

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    The same mentality holds true regarding life in the emergency department. Over the past couple of months the volume has been steadily growing which means that there are more patients in the department, more waiting for admission and ultimately more in the waiting room. We also had a stringent visitor policy that up until recently would allow no visitors unless they were essential to the care of the patient. Now we're allowing only one.

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    Given that covid-19 type patients are clustering in the department, especially in designated areas of the waiting room, you would think that this limitation would be self explanatory. I mean who wants to willingly expose themselves to the disease let alone potentially spread it to those who are vulnerable. But hold on...pump the brakes, because it's anything but that.

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    At least once, if not twice, per shift I'm told to go, "f*#k myself." Usually this comes from patients who don't get what they want (most times it's narcotics) and family members who feel things aren't being done fast enough or to their satisfaction. Add to that the visitor policy, increased wait times, impatience with the system and well, I'm sure you know who—I’m clearing my throat and pointing at myself—becomes the punching bag for people's frustrations.

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    It's not that I or my colleagues are purposefully delaying care, or that we don't care about our jobs or we’re giving our inner demons the chance to speak. There's only so much space and a limited number of medical personnel in which to treat the influx of patients seeking care. It's not like we can schedule appointments or control the numbers. The emergency department is open all day, every day, all year long to anyone who needs it. We are also diligently taking safety measures so we can limit the spread of the infection and create a safe environment for all.

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    In the end I’m more interested in promoting harmony rather than discord. And while I realize it’s easier said than done, I’d like to see more people working together and showing respect rather than feed this decisive split that has torn our society in two. Yeah, I know, it’s kind of a pipe dream. Then again, I leave you this, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” And if that’s not enough, “You reap what you sow.”

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    I still believe that the majority of us want to be in this together, let’s not be too close together while we’re all in it.

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