We all have memories, life lessons or experiences which are engrained to such a level that they impact our lives many years later.

One such experience, for 10-year-old Renee, occurred following my birthday celebration at Mr. Bill’s Bone Box restaurant in Kuttawa, KY.

Being double-digits and all, and likely trying to show off in front of my friends, I decided that I needed to order off of the adult menu. Not just any order would suffice, however, and I went for it with the catfish platter piled high with too much catfish for even the sane adult to consume, plus hushpuppies and a massive pile of fries.

My mother warned me in a calm, yet stern manner, that she expected me not to waste.

Little did I know as I celebrated that night dancing around the restaurant, playing on instruments, listening joyfully while everyone sang “Happy Birthday” and eating maybe five french fries off of the colossal plate exactly what those words meant. 

They meant Renee was having cold catfish for breakfast. 

Now, as a mother of five, my children have been subject to hearing this story way too often when they are wasteful with really, well anything …

“If you don’t stop being so careless, I am feeding you all cold catfish for breakfast!”

I also wonder about the patients whom we serve daily. 

We spend significant amounts of time, evaluating, assessing progress and preparing them for their next level of care, but do we really know them?

Much of what shapes us and the way we interact with the world into adulthood starts in our childhood.

What are their cold catfish stories? 

The life lessons from their parents, grandparents or others that impact them still today. 

Maybe they were raised that the day couldn’t start without a blazing hot cup of coffee, a specific devotional or perfectly making their bed. 

Perhaps they began working at a young age and having a daily task or “to do” list would give them more of a sense of purpose and meaning.

What if an evening stroll has long been part of their routine to close the day and help them rest? 

One of my fondest patient memories occurred when we discovered that a lady with no living family who was hesitant for years to socialize or leave her room sat down at a new facility piano and played her heart out. Music, and playing piano with her own mother, shaped most of her childhood we learned. 

I am sure all of you have many similar stories you could share.

If not, start today.

What are their cold catfish stories and how can you use these lessons to refine and provide better care daily?

Renee Kinder, MS, CCC-SLP, RAC-CT, is Executive Vice President of Clinical Services for Broad River Rehab. Additionally, she serves as a member of American Speech Language Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Healthcare and Economics Committee, is a member of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine community faculty and is an advisor to the American Medical Association’s Current Procedural Terminology CPT® Editorial Panel. She can be reached at [email protected].

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.