Erin's Journal

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Just a thought... Practice the pause. Pause before judging. Pause before assuming. Pause before accusing. Pause whenever you’re about to react harshly and you’ll avoid doing things and saying things you’ll later regret. [Lori Deschene]

Welcome to another day of journaling long distance. While Mike and I are hosting our AMA Waterways Tulip Time Cruise, I’ve written a fresh blog here for you. Today we’re in Middelburg, Netherlands and I promise pictures and stories for you from Europe when we return next week, okay? Thanks for understanding.
 
There are a lot of great sayings about not judging a book by its cover (including that one itself) but one of my favourites has to be the one above. And nowhere was that more evident than some recent challenges for Rob that had people coming to entirely the wrong conclusion.
 
It all began several years ago when Rob had an attack of pancreatitis. In that it happened at the end of the Christmas hoidays while we were at our Minden cottage, the staff at our closest hospital figured he’d overindulged in the alcohol department and they weren’t going to give him any kind of pain killers. He suffered - and anyone who has had pancreatitis knows how terribly, awfully painful it is - while it was just assumed that he suffered from alcoholism.
 
Many, many months (and a few attacks later) a doctor in Toronto diagnosed it for the rare condition it was and is: pancreas divisum, a congenital anomaly, and fixed it, thank goodness.
 
Then just last month - not to dwell on poor ol’ Rob, but this is about him, too - he got some cream prescribed by his dermatologist for his previously cancerous nose. This stuff, called Efudex (which can also be injected for different types of cancers), is to be applied to the place of concern for two straight weeks and - to oversimplify here - if there are cancerous cells there, they are prevented from dividing.
 
In the case of his skin, the cream would eventually cause those cells to flake off. But in the weeks before that happened, Rob’s nose, on which he’d had surgery in the past for skin cancer, became terribly discoloured. It turned a very deep red and he was embarrassed to be seen sporting such a rosy, sore-looking schnozz. Of course, cancer is worse than some embarrassment, to be sure, but Rob knew it looked as though he was a full-time drinker. Again with the alcohol, right?
 

red nose

 
Now, I take you to the nurse in the clinic where he was having his colonoscopy. After reading about pancreatitis in his chart and looking at Rob's nose, she admitted that she right away thought “alcoholic.” It was an easy assumption to make and she was grateful to learn, not only about Efudex, but also about this pancreas divisum condition. She’d not heard of it before.
 
We’re glad to be able to enlighten people at every turn. But it also served as a really good reminder to me and everyone else that not everything is as it appears. I remember my friend Lisa was furious when her dad, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, was presumed to be driving drunk. Here’s his story in Lisa’s words:

Dad was driving one evening and he swerved to avoid a deer. (Yes, you're not supposed to swerve, but he swerved.) He landed in the ditch and his pickup ended up against a fence. The fence jammed his door and he was unable to get out. Instead of helping get him out, the attending police officer questioned him while he was trapped, assuming he was drunk. 
 
My Dad was agitated (for obvious reasons!) and his hands were shaking (Parkinson’s) and he was in his 70s at the time. Instead of having any compassion and assisting my Dad, the cop ignored his pleas and acted like he was on an episode of Law and Order. The thought of my Dad, helpless, feeling unsafe in his vehicle, and no one helping him out, still makes me angry. 

I guess if you were to ask the cop, you’d hear that he sees so many drivers who have been drinking that he just put two and two together and made what would most often be a logical connection.
 
But for the rest of us, it reminds me of the old saying (which I still remember from TV’s The Odd Couple because seeing ASS on the television was something I couldn’t wrap my young head around): “When You Assume, you make an ASS of U and ME.” So true. It’s so easy to add things up and, not only come to the wrong conclusion, but find yourself on the wrong page altogether. Just a thought.
 
Glad you’re on this page, though, and I’ll have a new journal for you here again tomorrow.
 
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