Shingles, Goals, and Stoicism


During our second trip to the Emergency Room last week, Bob and I saw a doctor with a Jersey twang.  He said he was in his mid 60’s, but if he really is, he’s doing something right. Maybe he is a vegan, or a vegetarian, or a runner. He was svelte and energetic, and he in no way looked to be in his  mid-60’s. No way!

Anyway, while we were seeing this medical professional and discussing Bob’s shingles outbreak and the reason for our visit, Doc said:

“What is your pain level right now, Mr. H?”

“Bad!” Mr. H replied.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, where ya at this evening?” Doc continued.

“8, or 9!” Bob winced.

“Okay then!” Doc was was going to prescribe some pain meds that don’t get prescribed too often these days.  The good stuff, and the necessary stuff from both doc and hubby’s perspective.  Before he did that, though, the doc from Jersey said:

“Are you a farmer?”

Mister said, “What?”

Remember, he is in a pain-induced fog at this point.

“Are you are farmer?” Doc repeated.

Hubby, still unable to discern the substance of the question, his confusion being prompted by a combination of the Jersey accent, his hard-of-hearing status, and a pounding, throbbing, incapacitating headache looked at me in bewilderment.  I thought quick and hard and said, “I think he is asking you if you’re a farmer.”

Doc repeated the question with a nod that said, yeah, of course that is what I said, then he said it again.  “Are you a farmer?!”

“No,” Mr H replied, “why?”

“Because you are stoic about this pain you’re in.  You sit here and you say nothing, and then when I ask you your pain level you tell me an 8!  That is what a farmer would say.  A farmer would come in here with his arm hanging half off and he wouldn’t say a thing.  Wouldn’t complain.  Would let me hack it the rest of the way off, if I wanted to.  That makes me think you’re a farmer.”

We all laughed, save hubs, who just smiled painfully.

It’s true, what he said, and living where we live it applies.  Bradford County farmers are stoic individuals who do hard work every day without complaint, and if one of their arms was hanging half off in the ER I’m not sure anyone but the people attending to them would know about it.

His commentary on farm life was funny because it was true!

All this to say that I had three teeny, tiny goals I had set for myself last week, not knowing what this week held for me and hubs. I did not achieve those goals, not a one of them, and that’s okay.  What I did do this week was take care of a non-farming stoic and pain-absorbing Viet Nam veteran, who has shingles in his eye and scabs all over his head and face, and that is enough.


Not a chance! Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

I’m setting no goals for next week, save the goal of doing all I can to make my stoic veteran feels better and be well, one painful day at a time!

Can you pick up a Jersey accent when you hear it?  What funny ER stories do you have to tell? 


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