The Armies of Wahl and Harrington

It’s Dr. Harrington’s Office!  It’s Dr. Harrington’s Office!! She has room for me!

My breast surgeon has always carried a mythical quality about her.  She’s mom to her young children and close friends and running buddies with one of my teaching colleagues at school.

But when I see her for surgery?

She’s Aragon.

She commands power and respect.  She leads firmly, but with a clear vision and heart.  And she fights and slices with a precision and skill admired by all.

She defends me against evil invaders.

And I feel a little star struck when I’m in her presence!!  

In all seriousness, she’s THAT good.  And her team is that good.  And I’ve had some time to think about what makes her and her team and Dr. Wahl and her team so GOOD.

They hire competent, smart, empathetic professionals and they keep those people.

Dr. Wahl and Dr. Harrington inspires a collective vision of something greater than each person’s personal interests.    People share a LOT with me.  And when you’re waiting for this procedure or that procedure, you have a like of time to share.

I have never, ever heard Dr. Wahl or Dr. Harrington’s team members express anything but pride in their ability to support patients and be part of a professional, respected team.

Contrast this with the ER staff at Swedish who bragged about how much money they were making and made teasing, diminutive comments about the surgeon behind his back.

I have never, ever heart Dr. Wahl or Dr. Harrington’s team members make a comment that would demean anyone, for any reason, or create an unwelcome environment.

Constrast this with the ER staff member at Overlake, who shared her Christianity and her distaste for people with tattoos, feeling my Bellevue blond bob made us ideological sisters.   (It made me very careful about what I said.  In my vulnerability, I am hesitant to come out as a GLBTQ loving agnostic and I am thinking of how threatening microaggressions become here.  I’m also thinking I should shed the Bellevue bob and be a bit more out.  Am I passing?)

The pride each of these doctors’ staff members takes in their ability to help patients is uncontainable.   Muff, the nurse practitioner, explains how she has rewritten all of the medical release forms to be more patient friendly.  Dawn’s warm heart and professional expertise weave the practical and the personal in only loving, supportive ways.

It’s a culture they’ve nurtured.  And that kind of culture takes strong leadership and strong community.  You can’t have a lot of turn over and keep that kind of consistent vision.

But there’s also evidence of a lot of active, ongoing reflection here.  I see this in Dr. Wahl’s office because I am there more often.

Dr. Wahl and her team are supporting all of us, at all stages of cancer, in a journey that forces us to grapple with death.  Managing expectations while supporting well-being is a tricky balancing act.  Your heart can be in the right place and it’s still incredibly easy to step right into a patient’s sensitive spot.   Somewhere, Dr. Wahl and her team are working very hard at thinking through how to frame situations, how to foreshadow what may come without instilling fear, how to read what a patient needs emotionally and how to respond to that.

Really, someone should do a discourse analysis of this woman’s approach.  She is a master.  A model of discursive insight, heart, reflection and professionalism.

And she leads her team to be this as well.

I suppose that makes her Gandalf?  Nah.  She has too much female power and authority.

She’s the elf queen.


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