Plié, straighten, relevé, down. Plié, straighten, relevé, down. Plié, straighten, relevé, down. Relevé, relevé, relevé. I must have performed this sequence over a hundred thousand times throughout my ballet training, each time with precision and dedication to advance my ballet career skills. As I perfected my dancing talent, I also excelled in choreography. I could within minutes envision a complete scene and ensemble from nothing but an empty stage. Who knew years after my dance experience that I would channel this talent into treating patients, at each patient situation as a stage and developing a routine that works for them with strength, dedication, intelligence, direction, and fearlessness.
I later married a man with two children on the autism spectrum. This challenge of never-ending rote and repetition directed my day-to-day existence and was a measurable means for my sons’ growth, mainstreaming into the reality we all share. This is why I wanted a career in neurology. I wanted not only to understand the brain and its unique characteristics, I wanted to understand better how my boys saw and interfaced with the world. My work in neurology not only provided me insight into my world, but also allowed me to convey grace and compassion to patients and their families. I later had a daughter who is neurotypical, creating yet a new challenge as a highly social and outgoing individual who in many ways needed the opposite of what I implemented for her brothers with autism. It was as if I were a first-time parent, learning an entirely new way of raising a child. My mix of children has required compassion, patience, creativity, and unconditional love.
The array of all my experiences, all the things I have created, and all my interventions allow me to be the medical provider I have become a bold, dedicated, sympathetic, empathetic, provider who never gives up or stops short, treating each patient situation as it were my own. I embrace the experience. I embrace the challenge.
These reasons motivate me to wake up each day, not knowing what I will face among my various roles, but having a flexible approach regardless of where the next twist or threat may lie. I am often confronted, thrown, and left without a raft. However, never a day passes that gratitude and appreciation are not expressed. Our days are about people helping people. I always say, “Grow where you are planted.” If you grow where you are planted, you will grow strong, and be able to help others with your roots. It you grow away from where you are planted, your foundation is weak and typically is less giving.
This is what motivates me in the work I do today, and in the future. This is how I do what I do.
Melle Reider-Demer is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and the Quality Officer in the Department. She won the highly prestigious Press-Ganey Nurse of the Year Award for 2018. Melle Reider Demer has launched several new clinical care programs, spearheaded the telemedicine effort for the Department and for the Health System (and published on this) and sees patients in the outpatient clinic and the inpatient services in Neurology.