Lessons in compassion and respect

In a one week period of time, I have have more lessons in compassion and respect than I have had over the past couple of years. It started last week after my hearing at the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in San Rafael. After my hearing was over, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) told me a story of an unrepresented claimant whose case had been assigned to this ALJ. The ALJ decided to make an “on the record decision” in favor of the claimant. He related the procedural history and the outcome of the case with such compassion; I could see it in his eyes. I thought to myself that I wish there were more of him and that I should make it my goal to emulate him.
The opposite experience occurred two days later when I went to a citizenship interview at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services with my elderly and disabled client. We were not treated with compassion and respect. We were treated with almost some kind of presumption that my client was lying – as if she wanted to be disabled. It was an awful experience. This will definitely be a case to appeal.
This week I have been accompanying my elderly relative to legal and health care appointments. My relative has noticeable cognitive impairments; nevertheless, the people we have met have treated him with respect and have taken the time to listen to him. He feels like he has been heard and that is very important to him.
Finally, today, I had my last physical therapy appointment with my physical therapist at Sport and Spine Therapy of Marin. (I would mention my therapist’s name but she would be embarrassed if I did.) It turned out that I did not have carpal tunnel but rather tendonitis. Through her care and treatment, my hands feel normal again. While sitting at therapy for an hour twice a week, I have been able to observe how she relates to others and of course to me. She took the time to listen to each person she saw and plan a course of treatment specific to that patient. Although she was very busy, I believe everyone felt that she knew their medical condition. I saw her treat everyone with respect and compassion. As with the Judge, I felt I could learn something from the physical therapist. It is possible to be busy but still treat people with respect and compassion.
We are living in difficult financial times, as we all know. We all could use a little compassion and respect in our lives. It goes a long way.

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