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Run As Fast As You Can

The day has come. The great move to the new Stone Institute located in the northeast corner of Shelby County has begun. Friday we took care of patients in rooms barren of art and lacking character. We could hear the echoes of our past challenges ring out in the empty spaces. It was an odd feeling, focusing on the health of others while sitting amidst the chaos of a significant change.

All of our staff has lots of things to do to make sure the move goes as smooth as possible. Each of us has an identified packing survival kit, just in case all goes a foul. We each look at our individual roles in the health team and must decide what stays and what goes. It is difficult to sort out what's important in an uncertain future when all we have is the recent past to guide us. Nothing in the future is the same as in our past, but for some strange reason we use it as a guide. Tomorrow's adventures are usually not related to today's experience, but we always link them together. The past constantly creeps up on us. The security of the past, and the familiar, makes the future seem so unsettling. The allure of a new adventure is usually powerful enough for us to shake off the shackles of the past and get on with it. We tell ourselves over and over again, leave the past behind and start fresh. What does that really mean?

I've managed to salvage a number of items from the old place -- things that make a difference in small ways. We doubled the shelving space in the new place. I built the shelving units myself. By coincidence, Tammy, her son Josh and his daughter Hannah came to visit the clinic before Hannah returned to Virginia. Josh volunteered to help me build the new shelves. On the box were two phrases. Only mallet needed for assembly. Easy assembly in minutes. With Josh's help, we managed to erect a shelving unit in about thirty minutes. During the construction, each time we used the mallet to tap the supporting metal cross member to the weight bearing standard, one of the previously connected cross members would disconnect. Hannah loudly called out, and pointed to, every single detachment. Tammy remarked, "Doc you welded those Big Red Gates and you can't even put a simple shelving unit together." It was funny; two adult men struggling with such a seemingly simple task. The real adventure started when Josh, Tammy, and Hannah left me alone to finish the job; five metal shelving units to assemble alone.

The assembly of these simple only mallet needed shelves became a nightmare. The instructions should have read: two adult patient friendly humans and a mallet are needed for assembly. I quickly found out that I could not hold a cross member and simultaneously tap it into the weight bearing standard. I needed three or four hands. I only had my two. I went back to the instruction booklet. I followed it precisely and erected half of the unit without any trouble. Yet, when I went to the second phase of the construction, the entire first phase assembly collapsed. Every piece of steel disconnected and fell into a pile on the floor. I think you can still hear the f-bombs echoing from wall to wall. It was something that a Reality Television producer would love to put on the air. Thank goodness Tammy wasn't there filming it for a U-Tube video. It was hilarious and ridiculous at the same time. 

 I surveyed the situation. Then I built a cardboard jig to be the third and forth hand I needed to assemble the shelving units. It took about one hour to assemble each shelving unit. I had to position myself in several twisted yoga positions in order to hold and tap the cross members into the weight bearing standards. Each time I got into one of those contortions, I felt like I was being harshly punished for believing the phrases: Only mallet needed for assembly. Easy assembly in minutes. It took hours to assemble the remaining five units. I took years off my life. 

When I finished, I looked at all seven shelving units and realized yet again, we all suffer from our own personal form of Hell. I smiled, turned off the lights and headed home, laughing all the way. 

The move is on. The chaos has begun. We will emerge into a new normal. I am excited, even though my muscles haven't recovered yet from the shelving unit debacle. Every time you reach for toilet tissue, remind yourself that Khat picked the location of the toilet tissue holders and Doc attached them to the walls. And if a shelving unit says assembles in minutes, only a mallet's needed for assembly: Run! Run as fast as you can!

Doc

Posted by Megan Denney at 7:30 PM
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