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With a big smile on my face, I cheerfully informed the patient, “Your doctor wants you to get up to walk four times today. You walked 25 yards with me this morning. Now it’s time for you to get up again. This time we’ll shoot for 50 yards.”

The patient made no move to sit up. He grumped, “I don’t know why you have to be so cheerful. I bet you enjoy torturing people.”

As I pulled the bedside table out of the way, I informed him, “Actually, I don’t!” The patient lifted his head and hunched his shoulders forward as if he was trying to do a sit-up. His face contorted into a grimace. I instructed, “When a person has an abdominal incision like you do, it feels better to roll to your side and push yourself up with your elbow.”

Moments later the patient was plodding down the hall with me helping to steady him. His surely mood was still evident. Wanting to take his mind off the pain and the perceived injustice of having to walk so soon after surgery, I tried to engage him in conversation.

My questions only received monosyllabic answers. As we walked past the kitchenet, the warm smell of freshly-popped buttered popcorn engulfed us. I exclaimed, “Wow, that smells so good! I’ll bet heaven smells like buttered popcorn. What do you think?”

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