There are two Harold Palms: One before his lung transplant. One after.
Harold before was a tough-minded welder who told it like it is and didn’t need anybody.
Harold after still speaks the truth, but does it with a smile and a joke or two.
And he’s learned that he needs people, especially the young doctor who was with him every step of his ordeal.
We should all have a primary care doctor like Dr. Paul Stadem. For that matter, we should all have a resource like M Physicians Broadway Family Medicine Clinic.
The North Minneapolis facility is one of the places the University of Minnesota Medical School trains primary care doctors like Paul.
The guiding philosophy here is that the extraordinary connection between the two men is just what the doctor ordered.
The Broadway Clinic not only looks for academic chops in its residents, but the emotional depth to forge difference-making connections.
Says Dr. Kacey Justesen, the clinic’s program director: “People are much more willing to open up and to share their vulnerability when they know—and trust—somebody well.”
Paul was in the first year of his three-year residency when he noticed a brand-new patient on his schedule.
In walked Harold, a father of two, decked from head to toe in gear from one of his hometown teams – the Chicago Bulls.
Right from the get-go, Harold made it clear that he had no trust in doctors and had actually been forced to go to the appointment by his wife, Norma.
But, then, the conversation turned to what formed an unbreakable bond between the two:
"I told him,” Harold recalls, “that I’ve gotten to a point where I can’t even pick up my own son without going into respiratory distress. And as a man, he felt that."
Over the next several months, as Harold’s condition worsened and their relationship deepened, Paul continued to investigate his diagnosis through additional studies and lab tests.
Finally, a test found that Harold had a rare condition called mixed connective tissue disease.
At that point, Paul thought Harold needed a doctor with experience managing a patient on a lung transplant list.
No way, Harold answered. “I told him, we’re just going to have to learn together, bro. Because I’m not doing it if you’re not doing it with me.”
Harold vows to make the most of his second chance by being a good example to his kids, his wife, everybody: “He taught me to trust again and the true meaning of humanity."
Harold isn’t the only one forever changed. Paul is, too. Paul, humbled by Harold’s unshakable belief in him, received the education of a lifetime: “Sometimes what people need isn’t a new prescription. It’s someone to listen to them, someone to help them through some tough stuff.”
Someone to feel what they feel.