I am a very independent person. My husband would probably say stubborn but I prefer to think of it as independence. I lived on my own for 9 years before I got married and I am perfectly capable of taking care of whatever comes up. I normally am strong, fit and full of energy so I get quite a lot accomplished each day.
Well now here I was in the hospital after major surgery. Weak, exhausted and in pain. Getting up to walk the 2 feet to the bathroom was a major undertaking for which I needed help. I had to rely on the nurses, techs and my family to help me in and out of the bed as my legs felt like they weighed 100 pounds each and simply lifting them to get back in bed was all but impossible. Since the incision went from just under my bellybutton straight down – bending, coughing, sneezing, taking a deep breath, sitting up in a chair for any length of time and even blowing my nose were adventures in pain! You don’t realize just how important your abs are to just about anything you choose to do.
For someone who routinely walks 12-18 miles a week, just walking down the hallway was a huge undertaking! And besides being in pain and out of breath while walking at a snail’s pace, it totally exhausted and discouraged me.
I felt totally helpless and I was at that time. For someone like me who is used to helping other people, being the caretaker and being strong and capable, being in this state and having to ask for help constantly with even the simplest task, was humbling to say the least.
My family was incredible – and that did not surprise me, but it really touched me how attentive and wonderful they were to be by my side constantly so that I almost always had a family member I could ask for help. But I also had to rely on the kindness of strangers – the nurses and techs in the hospital. I found myself constantly apologizing for bothering them and feeling like I should be able to do these things but they were unfailingly kind, patient, compassionate and understanding. I got to know quite a few of them and we had some wonderful conversations.
The lesson here is this – courtesy and gratitude go a long way. I was in the midst of apologizing to one of the sweet technicians for what she needed to do to help me (I won’t go into detail!) and she told me that I was one of the easiest patients to deal with. She said she loved working with and helping people but some were just so nasty it was beginning to sour her.
I understand that when someone is in extreme pain they can be impatient or even rude and I know the nurses and techs understand this. But we all know there are some who just treat these wonderful people and most others as well as if they are somehow beneath them – whether they’re in pain or not! There were just a few times I rang for help and had to wait or even ring again – but honestly I knew I was not their only patient and they were stretched pretty thin at times. So patience, gratitude, courtesy, a smile and kind word go a very long way to making what could be a very uncomfortable time much more pleasant.
When have you had to rely on the kindness of strangers?
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