The Consummate Patient Tells Her Story


Barb and brother in 1969. Barb giving speech 2023
Me holding my brother Jonathan in the spring of 1969 and giving a speech in 2023

I love to talk. It is one of my favorite things to do. As a child I was in trouble for this all the time. I grew up in the era of little girls should be seen and not heard. I had a hard time living with that societal standard. Not only did I like to talk, I was often perilously honest. I was never mean or intentionally rude, but often both of those realities flew out of my mouth.

Let me share my kindergarten experience.

My mother gave birth to my brother Jonathan when I was five. I was intrigued with all aspects of his arrival and I loved watching her nurse him. My mother could feed hm with her breasts! I was amazed. Even more amazing was her nursing bra. It had hooks that opened the front of the bra so she could lift her shirt and feed him. Her shirt was made for this as well. Jonathan could be fed anywhere and nothing showed!

I brought the nursing bra in for show and tell.

This was in 1969. My kindergarten teacher was in her 40th year of teaching. Go ahead now, do the math. She began her career in 1929. I was born just a few years too early. My mother, with her cut off jeans and rope belt, was too much for her. My honest questions and show and tell items put her right over the edge. Once she saw what I had brought and heard my introduction I was led by the braid to the principal’s office.

I loved it there.

Mrs. Marcoux and Mrs. Macey were amazing. Although they too were “old”, they were young at heart. They loved my shenanigans and were a sympathetic ear for my questions and complaints. They also gave me cookies and Kool Ade. This infraction, however got me an invitation to go home early. My mother apologized profusely to my kindergarten teacher after getting quite an earful and I feared I would get in trouble. I did not, but I did get a lecture on clearing my show and tell choices before packing them into my bookbag.

This experience foreshadowed many of my life’s experiences, good and bad, that were connected to my mouth and what came out of it. I was once told by an administrator that my mouth was my greatest asset and my biggest liability. He was correct.

This past weekend I was honored to be a keynote speaker at a state wide conference for high school students entering the world of healthcare. When I was invited to do this my first question was to clarify that I was not in the health care field so what credibility would I have.  The director of the conference replied, “you are the consummate patient, these young people will be seeing patients everyday throughout their careers.”

That was all it took!

I had 25 minutes allotted to share my story as a soul who inhabits a human body and what my relationships with my many doctors were like over the years. My talk took just over 26 minutes. I did not write anything ahead of time. I like to speak from my heart. I firmly believe, when I step before an audience, that the universe will provide me with the message I am supposed to deliver.

I feel good about my talk.

I have lost so much in the last 14 years of my life. Much of it from saying the wrong things to the wrong people at the wrong time. These blogs, and my book and the podcast are all incredibly cathartic ways for me to reconcile those years and use what happened to help others rather than those events drown me.

I am hoping public speaking helps me to do the same thing, 

(Here’s the link to my talk!)

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