Stories of Gumption is a regular column that profiles individuals who admirably demonstrate Gumption as Steve defines it. These are the stories of real people who exhibit Gumption in overcoming personal challenges, and validate the spirit of Gumption during their life journey. Let’s take inspiration from those who seize 100% personal responsibility and show us how to live a life that exhibits Gump-like character traits worthy of applause!
About 15 years ago, I had numbness in my left foot in the area of my toes. When I took off my shoe at night I’d have to rub my foot and toes to make them feel better. My middle toe veered off at an odd angle. Eventually I sought the expertise of a podiatrist. That was the fortuitous circumstance that allowed me to meet Dr Thomas Carine.
Instantly, I knew Dr Carine was different. His small waiting room was covered with Elvis memorabilia and autographed pictures of Hollywood actors from yesteryear. Peering through the window to the receptionist’s desk, I noticed shelves full of figurines along side the patient files. The figurines were a mixtures of pop culture, old Hollywood, and cartoons. There was so much of it that grasping it all – or fretting about my foot – was impossible. As I awaited my first meeting with Dr Carine, it felt more like an audition at a talent agency than medical treatment at a doctor’s office.
Dr Carine himself opened the door to the reception area and invited me in that first time – I remember thinking it unusual. Retrospectively, he must have wanted to meet me right off to make me feel welcome. I recall him smiling. He was animated as he proudly told the reasons for the memorabilia. He was very interested in me as a fellow human being and listened attentively to both my personal life story and the medical reason for my visit. I instantly liked Dr Carine.
Over the next six months, I was treated for neuroma and a dislocated toe. The long-term fix was custom designed orthopedic shoe inserts. I remember being skeptical of the simplicity of the fix and questioned how could a minor adjustment in the way the foot distributed my body weight make a difference? It worked. I also remember Dr Carine patiently explaining everything medical from surgical options to learning how to manage and live with my condition.
Over the next several years I visited Dr Carine regularly and purchased an extra set of inserts and even special pairs of orthopedic sandals and house shoes. The foot numbness I originally experienced never returned. Dr Carine and his small professional staff taught me how to manage my condition.
Because Dr Carine’s family had a long-time seafood restaurant on the Monterey peninsula, we shared a special bond with the Bubba Gump restaurant. His love of Elvis and Hollywood was a natural affinity to my Gump character. When I told him I was getting a new pair of Nike sneakers we agreed my old shoes should be displayed in his office along with the rest of his memorabilia. He had a special display case custom built.
When I was in the process of moving to Montana, I naturally told Dr Carine of my intentions. By that point, our relationship was more like two, long-time friends as opposed to a stiff, stuffy doctor-patient rapport. Dr Carine coached me on how to interview podiatrists to work with in the future. Because of his professional knowledge and caring personality, I knew more about my condition, managing it for the long-term, and future surgical options than the general orthopedic surgeon I would meet in Montana several years later.
A few years ago, I called Dr Carine’s office from Montana as my custom orthopedic shoe inserts were wearing out. He personally returned my call and said, “No problem, send them back and we’ll have them refurbished.” They arrived as good as new a few short weeks later.
Last week, while working in California, I decided to personally drop off my again worn orthopedics to his office. I wanted to see my old friend. It had been 6-8 years since we last saw each other but I was confident Dr Carine would take a minute if he was available to say hello. I arrived without an appointment.
As I walked up to his office door, I could hear his loud and cheerful voice before entering. When I opened the exterior door to the reception room, I instantly saw Dr Carine sitting at the desk through the reception window. He smiled and cheerfully exclaimed, “Forrest Gump!” I felt like I had come home.
My impromptu visit was perfectly timed as he had just returned to his office from surgery and had no patients scheduled for the next few hours. We talked, laughed, and got caught up both personally and medically. We took pictures. I got to know his two staff members. We talked and laughed some more. My new orthopedics will arrive in a few weeks. Thirty minutes after arriving at his office unannounced, we embraced and said good-bye.
Dr Carine is different.
Dr Carine is an excellent medical professional.
Dr Carine is an outstanding fellow human being.
Dr Carine has lots of Gumption.
Dr Carine is living his life with Gumption.