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Caring for the Caregiver

04 Feb 2014 4:16 PM | Marsha W. Snyder
I did not know Chris (except by reputation and his scholarly genius) until shortly before his death. I met him at a conference in Canada for which we were both presenters. I was less than a year out of MAPP and trying to blaze a trail for the use of Positive Health in the medical community and with medical education. As with most of our newly post-graduate trails, it was lonely. Chris did a lot of research in Positive Health. He immediately embraced me, honored what I was trying to do, and offered helpful advice, as well as a willingness to stay in touch. Unfortunately, he did not look healthy. He was sweating. He was short of breath, and could only walk a few steps before he had to sit down and rest. As a physician, I could tell that he was in early congestive heart failure, without asking a single question or laying a stethescope on his chest. I waited until the end of our discussion. I wanted to say something to him but was afraid of offending this man for whom I had such great respect. I finally thanked him profusely for his help, and then quickly asked, "As a medical doctor, do you mind if I ask you a health related question?" He didn't mind. I asked if he had ever seen a doctor for his heart or his overall health. He had not. (This was a devastating answer under the circumstances). I said, "It is out of the tremendous gratitude and respect in my heart for you that I strongly advise you to see your doctor when you return home." I explained all the symptoms he was having and what they might mean. He thanked me, but somehow I doubt he ever went to see a doctor. He died weeks later.

One of my callings in life is that I take care of caregivers, primarily physicians, who do not take care of themselves because their time is so heavily invested in their profession. I believe Chris Peterson was a gentleman with a purpose; he was so heavily invested in the quality and authenticity of his science as a path to longer and more flourishing lives for others. He gave endless support, love and caring to all those with whom he worked, his friends, even his acquaintences. The sadness is that he invested so much of himself in others that he never gave himself the love and caring that he so richly deserved, so that HE could live a long and flourishing life. I see this scholarship fund as a way of giving Dr. Peterson the love and caring that he never gave himself in life. He deserves to be loved and cared for.

Comments

  • 05 Feb 2014 10:28 AM | Lisa Sansom (Administrator)
    Oh Marsha - how I wish he had heeded your wise counsel. I was deeply disturbed for a long time after hearing of Chris' death - because it was his mantra that "other people matter" and yet he didn't seem to consider that he, himself, also mattered tremendously and that he should take steps to ensure he stuck around to continue his many positive contributions to the world.
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