By Scott Westerman
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“The peson who is a master of patience is master of everything else.” ~George Savile
Nosh Amaria is a pretty amazing doctor. We call him Supernosh, because he is. A long time athletic trainer at Michigan State, Nosh had decided to follow in the footsteps of his father. The skills and concepts came easily. Nosh had lived with them all of his life. But Nosh wasn’t a great test taker. And the medical boards stood between him and the real world.
I vividly remember each time he faced down the formidable enemy. He knew what he needed to know. He could triage and treat with the best. He could keep a calm countenance in an emergency room when all around him were freaking out. But expressing what he knew on a test instrument made him stumble.
Again and again Nosh took the test, and failed. There were moments when he considered giving it up. He felt fulfilled as a trainer and with his medical knowledge, he was one of the best. But he kept at it. His teachers knew how good Nosh was. And eventually, his mentor, a world class test-taker said, “I know you will make a great doctor. I’ll work with you until you pass that test.”
And as with all things we continue to pursue, even when all seems lost, Nosh prevailed.
Good things take time.
I remember writing a fan letter to one of my favorite MSU professors, Jim Cash, after seeing his name in the writing credits at the front of the Hollywood blockbuster, Top Gun. “I’m an overnight sensation,” he wrote back. “It just took 45 years to become one.” In class, Jim always said, “Keep writing. Your stuff may not live up to your standards at first, but if you keep at it, you’ll get to where you want to be.”
Jim went on to write six more hit movies before illness curtailed his career.
What do these two stories teach us?
1) Doing something poorly, and learning from it, is the only way to get good at it.
2) Never take your eye off of the prize. Obstacles will always appear, often when you are least prepared to deal with them. They are gifts, gut checks, given to see if you really want that which you desire.
3) Patient persistence always prevails. Life isn’t about winning the big game or earning a title, an award or an income. It’s about creating a body of work you will be proud of.
I will always remember the day that Colleen suffered what the scientists call a “vasovagal neurocardiogenic syncope”. It’s a frightening experience. It presents just like a seizure and it almost always requires an ambulance run to the emergency room. She had experienced one before, so we knew what we were up against. I called 911 and told the dispatcher that we didn’t need lights and siren. I didn’t want to frighten the neighbors in the middle of the night. The paramedics got her safely loaded into the ambulance and we went to Sparrow Hospital.
When you’ve lived with cancer for as long as we had, you develop a stoic focus on whatever is required to get through the bad times, while keeping the faith that there will sunshine at the end of the rainbow.
We got Colleen stabilized and settled in a room for what remained of the night. I was sitting next to my now sleeping wife, holding her hand when the doctor came in.
It was Nosh.
And I was again reassured that Colleen would beat the monster, that she would endure the rest of the chemotherapy and fight her way back to the quality of life we now both had learned was a one day at a time proposition.
Nosh was reading my thoughts. He smiled and said, “She’ll be ok. Good things take time.”