The Story of the Paraplegic Squirrel
It was a busy evening at our medical clinic in Crowley, Texas. I had worked all day and was getting ready to enter the next room. Written on the T-sheet (the sheet the nurses prepare for each patient before I enter the room) under Chief Complaint was: “squirrel bite.”
Having done my residency at our county hospital (John Peter Smith) as well as my full medical practice since 2006, I had seen my fair share of “weird presentations” – from a live cockroach that had crawled into and was now stuck in a man’s ear, to a bean up the nose of a 3 year old child, to a beer bottle ripping through the cheek of a young man after a bar fight. I had seen a rat bite, a dog bite, and a cat bite, but until that night I had never seen a squirrel bite.
As I quietly reflected on this thought, I entered the room not knowing that I would learn a life lesson that day.
I Can’t Believe This Just Happened To Me
As I entered, I saw a calm, pleasant appearing woman in her early 40’s. She had an “I-can’t-believe-this-just-happened-to-me” look on her face. Then I saw the sizable gash in her right thumb.
I smiled and greeted her and said, “Wow! How did a squirrel manage to do that?” She shook her head and said, “I was trying to be nice. I saw a squirrel that could not move its hind legs. It was crawling along, hardly able to move. So, I decided to help it by picking it up and taking it to the vet. I put on thick gloves and slowly reached down, approached it from behind and grabbed it around its belly. As soon as I did, it turned its head around 180 degrees and bit me hard, through the glove. I can’t believe I did that. I feel so stupid.”
I smiled and told her, “Well, you were trying to help. I can’t believe the squirrel would bite so hard. You do know that squirrels can have rabies. Were you able to catch the squirrel?”
It turned out that they did catch the squirrel after all and took it to the vet for observation. I then discussed with her how we would treat the wound and get her the tetanus and rabies vaccines. I was truly touched by her heart, wanting to help a helpless animal. She left the clinic with an intact thumb, but a slightly bruised ego.
As I went home that night, I reflected on this squirrel bite experience. I thought about how as humans, when we are injured sometimes we behave just like that squirrel.
Hurt People, Hurt People
When we are feeling down, defeated, or rejected, we lash out at anyone close…even those who approach us gently trying to help.
May we be aware of our emotional state, always guarding our tongue and our actions. And as leaders, may we remember that when hurting people lash out at us, we should not take it so personally.
Hopefully we become a little wiser than the paraplegic squirrel.
For Further Reading:
People Will Hurt You – Keep Them Close Anyway