The Last Straw?

gray and green turtle swimming on water
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When I am in a fast food restaurant, I get a soda of whatever size and I put a cap on it and a straw in it. When I’m through, I often throw the cup, cap and straw away without a second thought. It is amazing to me that I take such little things as being a usual part of at least my weekly, if not daily, life. For a while now, I have been taking the cups home with me to rinse and recycle. (Don’t get me started on how many recyclables I see in restaurant trash…)

Lately, I have started taking my own straws into restaurants, fast food and otherwise. Why? Well, it’s because I saw the video of the sea turtle with the straw being extracted from its nose. It was a gruesome sight complete with blood and a very unhappy animal wincing in pain.

The video is a testament to the literal pain felt by our planet and its other inhabitants when we almost mindlessly toss things away. Plastic bags, straws, bottles, silverware, tires, the list goes one. Almost anything found in a landfill eventually ventures into the lives of wildlife.

In some cases, it goes into waterways and eventually the ocean where seaturtles like the one in the video, and other sea life, have close encounters of the awful kind. There is even a huge whirlpool of sorts in the Pacific Ocean that just circulates lots of accumulated trash and plastic on the surface. Eventually, some of it sinks to the bottom to affect the life going on there as well.

I want to reduce this pain, hence the bringing my own straws into restaurants. But there is more I and others like me can do. For instance, there is the “Give a Sip” movement that will send you a reusable paper straw to use instead of the ubiquitous plastic ones destined for landfills, etc. Stainless steel reusable straws are also available from various organizations for the same purpose.

I feel like we need to be more active and purposeful in our acknowledgement of the effects of our actions on those around us, and by this I mean not just humankind. If something as simple as a changing my straw can help to bring about a somewhat better life for a fellow creature, then why not try it? As the saying goes, “no skin off my nose” and alot less off his.


Take a Number, Be a Number

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I was at my orthopedist’s office not too long ago. I heard him say as he was talking to one of the residents, in my presence, “Have you checked on number 17 yet?” I was shocked at this. He didn’t use the patient’s name but rather their room number.  If he didn’t want to use the patient’s name in front of another patient, then he could simply have taken his conversation into the hall.

Is that all we patients are to clinicians like this, merely a room number to be checked off? What a shame. And truly shameful behavior on their part. Now I realize that they have multiple patients to see and care for in a day. But that’s what they signed on for. To reduce the people in their care (us) to numbers is depersonalizing and unkind.

I didn’t say anything at the time – I guess I was too speechless. I had observed a careless “bedside manner” to say the least. I was told I would be getting a survey to fill out to tell them about my visit. I will no doubt be detailing what I thought of it. I only hope it has some effect and isn’t tossed off like some other annoyance like the “numerous” patients they are responsible for treating.