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Friday, August 3, 2012
There is nothing like a campfire under a starry night to gather people and inspire them to song. Throughout the centuries, the crackling flames have held a magical power to draw people together, offering warmth and the sharing of common life. And as people come together to partake in each other’s company, they inevitably share their voices, pouring out their hearts in an expression of the common human experience.  

What did their songs sound like 100, 1,000, and 10,000 years ago? Did they sing of themes similar to our own campfire favorites? Did they sit around in their robes and animal skins singing lighthearted, catchy tunes like “On Top of Spaghetti,” or “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain?” Did they tell their children ancient stories through songs like “Arky Arky?” Or did they have a song like “One Tin Soldier” to warn against the folly of greed-motivated war?

Of course, the repertoire varies according to the character of the group, but one classic that I often hear in camp sing-alongs is “Cat’s in the Cradle.” The tune is catchy, the lyrics easy to learn, and the message, though somewhat melancholic, is universally embraced. Perhaps our ancestors too, had a similar song that warned against parent-child estrangement and under-lined the need for building relationships now lest we find ourselves socially isolated in the future.

The song tells the story of a father who was so wrapped up in his business that he never had time for his growing child. As the son matured, he looked to his dad’s example, saying, “I’m gonna be like him.” And years later, when the retired father finally sought out quality family time, he found that his boy -- now grown with kids of his own -- was too busy for a relationship.


This song was an immediate success in its time, and its message continues to resonate with many people. It is popular because it touches on a common human experience.

We recognize that we too, live our lives largely unaware of the consequences of our actions on others. While pursuing our goals, we unwittingly cause rifts in relationships, and sometimes only discover many years down the road the damage we have done. Like the father in the song, many people find themselves alone at the end of their lives.

But even though the song ends on this sad note, we have the hope of using the time we have left to better our lives and relationships.  

This is where the virtue of compassion can be well employed. Compassion, which means “to suffer with another,” is empathy for the pain of others. It allows us to step into the shoes of those around us and moves us to try to alleviate their suffering.

We often think of practicing compassion for the sick, the poor, the hungry, or the home-less. We might think of being compassionate toward those elderly who are stricken with loneliness and isolation.  

Yet there is another area where we can practice this virtue in a more “up close and personal” way. It implies looking into our past, surveying the carnage we have left in our wake as we ploughed, stumbled, and raced through life, and making amends for our mistakes. Compassion moves us to empathize with those we have harmed, and to repair the relationships we have broken or damaged.

We must first become aware of those we have hurt, rejected or ignored -- even though we may not have known it at the time -- and try to take their perspective, to understand how they felt then and feel now. Recall their names and the circumstances (while making an effort to forgive if the others harmed us as well). Then think of ways in which we can make amends for our actions.

In this increasingly globalized world, we aren’t forced to face the victims of our actions every night around the tribal campfire. In fact, we could probably go through our entire lives trying to repress the memories of our self-centeredness and ignorance, and the ways it may have hurt those around us. It might seem easier to make a new friend and forget the old, or pretend like that familial conflict never happened.

But the reality is that these unrepaired rifts take a toll on our hearts and souls. They sap our energy in subtle ways, and give off toxic waste in the form of guilt, shame, pain, fear, depression, and resentment. These interior wounds drain our emotion-al and spiritual life, thereby affecting our physical health as well. Thus it is essential to our integral health to take steps to heal these wounds.

Taking these steps may be difficult, as is the exercise of any true virtue, but it is the path to serenity and solidarity with those around us. It gives us a secure net of social bonds to hold us up throughout our lives, and helps us live life to the fullest. If we practice compassion, we will find ourselves living in that elusive point the song refers to, when we’ll enjoy a richness of social relationships and “you know we’ll have a good time then.”
 

Genevieve Pollock M.S. Clinical Psychology



Action items:

 Make a list of people you have harmed. Decide to make amends for your actions.  

 Take your family to visit a home for the elderly. Spend time with those who are lonely. 

 In your work day today, try to be aware of the consequences of your actions on others. Practice compassion by taking the perspective of your coworkers.

Kristy Baum RN, BSN, CDMS
Nurse Case Manager
Jurisdictions Covered: KY, OH

Kristy graduated from the University of Louisville with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.  Her clinical nursing background includes Medical/Surgical and Home Health Care.  Kristy has been certified as a Certified Disability Management Specialist for more than 15 years and has worked as a Nurse Case Manager for more than 20 years.  Kristy works closely with the injured worker, the employer, and insurance carrier throughout the case management process.  She has experience handling simple sprains to catastrophic injuries.


"I had a 43 year old male who works as a technician.  He reported a low back injury on 2/25/12 after working in an awkward position for an extended period of time.  He sought emergent care and was taken off work pending follow up evaluation.


His injury occurred in Chicago therefore he was covered by Illinois work comp.  He lived in Ohio however and returned home for ongoing care.  The initial efforts of case management was to coordinate an evaluation in Ohio with a provider who would accept Illinois work comp.


It should also be noted that claimant had experienced similar symptoms several years earlier.  He was treated conservatively for that initial injury.


Once a provider was located that would accept Illinois work comp, an appointment was coordinated with this provider. An MRI was recommended.  Through case management efforts the MRI was scheduled at the same facility that performed the previous MRI (from prior injury) to facilitate comparison to address any worsening of his condition.


There was a small disc herniation but it was on the opposite side of the injury several years earlier.  A neurosurgical consult with coordinated to review the MRI findings.  In the interim, conservative management was coordinated including PT, activity  modification and NSAIDS.


The neurosurgical consult was reviewed and there was no surgical issues identified.  A series of lumbar epidurals was recommended.  In the interim, a release to modified duty was obtained.  The employer was able to accommodate and the claimant returned to modified duty on 4/16/12.


A pain management consult was coordinated again with an Ohio provider.  At the time of this visit the claimant had reported improvement in his symptoms and the need for an epidural was deferred until symptoms recurred.


The claimant resumed his full duty activities.  Per the request of the adjuster a final evaluation is being planned to address release from care.

Through case management interventions timely care was coordinated in a different jurisdiction.  Treatment was coordinated timely and a modified duty return to work was coordinated to reduce TTD pending the completion of care.  A transition to full duty was coordinated and a final evaluation is scheduled for final documentation of release from care to allow claims adjuster to proceed with file closure." 

Why not let TRIUNE handle your next case from start to finish. 
Feel free to contact Kristy Baum at:

1-800-633-0884