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Jason Wright: Quit complaining, sometimes things turn out just fine

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Jason Wright


By Jason Wright

It's hardly breaking news. We live in a world that excels in identifying flaws. We're experts at finding the mote in our neighbor's eye -- checking it for termites and offering advice for emergency removal.

I'm as guilty as anyone.

Have a bad meal at a restaurant? Tell the manager, the server and your friends.

Frustrated by bad service from your local mechanic? Tweet it and post your gripe on Facebook.

Was the hotel bed too lumpy on your latest business trip? Tell the front desk clerk and send an email when you get home. Your back might not feel any better, but your ego might, right?

That's life. Everything that can go wrong will. Or will it?

What about when things go right? I wonder how often I notice when there's really nothing to complain about at all. In fact, maybe something went so well it deserves public praise?

A few nights ago, my 9-year-old son tumbled out of bed and whacked his head on the wooden edge of his little brother's trundle bed. The shiner was so big the International Star Registry could have named it.

Because of the size and location of the bump -- directly above his eye -- we decided he needed a midnight visit to Valley Health's Shenandoah Memorial Hospital emergency room in Woodstock. Naturally, we were concerned about a concussion and possible damage to the eye.

Frankly, we were also concerned about the reputation of the emergency room. We'd heard complaints about extraordinarily long waits, understaffing and bungled paperwork, though I'd never experienced any of those inconveniences first hand.

With his forehead swelling and turning shades of purple I've never seen on the color wheel, my patient and I said a prayer and made the short drive to the only option in town for emergency care.

To my surprise, we walked in and were immediately greeted, registered and triaged. In four minutes, we were already in an examination room back in the belly of the ER. He was put in a gown -- in his words, a "dress" -- and a nurse began asking all the important questions.

Hardly five minutes passed before the doctor entered and began his examination. I noted that I hadn't even had time to finish blowing up my latex glove turkey.

After a thorough exam and additional questions about the nature of the fall and his medical history, the doctor explained why he was forgoing a CT scan in favor of traditional X-rays. Perhaps another five short minutes passed before a technician was wheeling my wounded warrior to radiology. They took a few quick shots of his noggin and he was traveling back to his room before anyone had time to tease him about his Mario pajamas.

Another 15 minutes passed, just long enough for my son to reprimand me for playing with things and for me to step outside and send a text to his mother. Soon, the doctor invited us around a large nurses' station to look at the X-rays on a large computer monitor. He walked us through what he thought he saw, and what he didn't. "No concerns," the doctor said.

We returned to get our patient dressed and ready for home. The nurse was right behind us, giving us final instructions, things to watch for and several handouts reflecting what they'd done. We said goodbye, stopped briefly by billing and walked to the car.

It was impossible to ignore that at every second they'd treated him like the most important patient in the hospital -- though we certainly saw others -- and those others might say the same.

At every second they'd worked as true professionals, but with an appropriate brand of fun, kid-friendly banter that you only see in commercials.

They made a potentially terrifying experience for a child with a big bump on his head to nothing more than a bitty bump on the road.

But what about all those complaints? What about the waits? The paperwork nightmares? Wouldn't a comedy of errors have made for a better column?

In today's chaotic world, with its 20/20 vision for failure and weakness, I suspect many of us are trained to look for reasons to be disappointed. And when we are, we're wired to let the world know whom to avoid, whom to distrust and whom doesn't deserve our hard-earned money in their cash registers.

Today I recognize and applaud the entire team at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital for taking care of one of the four most important treasures in my life. I've got no complaints, no angry letters to write and no reason to launch nasty Main Street gossip.

All I have is a feeling that I should do less complaining, because sometimes things turn out just fine. And when they do, I need to recognize those moments, too.

How about you?

Jason F. Wright is a New York Times best-selling author of 10 books, including "Christmas Jars," "The Wednesday Letters" and "The 13th Day of Christmas." He can be reached at feedback@jasonfwright.com or jasonfwright.com.



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