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Two Different Shoes

He had on two different shoes and had no idea. His wife was with him and apparently she had not noticed either. It was very obvious that they were two different shoes. There were color and style variations. They were two shades of brown. One had mesh and one cloth. I noticed it immediately when I was examining his legs for swelling. He looked down as I was examining him as did his wife. I thought they may say something about it but they didn’t. I pondered mentioning it, making a joke to lighten the mood but thought better of it. It wasn’t a joking time considering the nature of the visit.

He had just learned that his lung cancer returned. I was seeing him that day to discuss his treatment plan and to educate him and his wife on his chemotherapy plan. The worry and concern were evident. He’d been in remission (free of cancer) for a few years prior to this recurrence. He’d been feeling mostly well but developed a nagging cough. He’d also lost weight due to decreased appetite. Thankfully, he kept his follow-up appointments and was routinely monitored.

I imagine that if I were in his shoes, putting on two different shoes wouldn’t be too far-fetched. I’ve dealt with enough patients and families to know many of the things they experience. I’ve even experienced some of the things myself as a family member of a loved one with cancer. He’d gone from enjoying Andy Griffith reruns to worrying about what side effects he may experience. He’d gone from resting peacefully at night to staying up late thinking about tomorrow.

Two different shoes were the least of their concerns at the time. New stress can make things that were once important menial. Things that were once a big deal, inconsequential. Life’s challenges can come out of nowhere and leave you hanging in the balance trying to figure everything out. Seemingly normal routines can be altered. Make each moment count. Truly cherish the happy times because you never know when challenging times are lurking near. Even with two different shoes, you can still go in whatever direction life takes you.

Have you ever been so overwhelmed that you do something absentmindedly? Think about how you handle stress. What can you do to improve how you handle it?

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