While in the hospital recovering from hip replacement surgery, my eyes opened to something I hadn’t thought of before. The EMTs, the nurses, my surgeon, and the nursing assistants didn’t need to extend kindnesses beyond their job requirements. Yet, many of them did.
“Jerry, would you like some coffee,” nurse Jackie asked, noticing Jerry seated next to my hospital bed. He said he would and that he needed ice in the coffee to cool it down. Soon Jackie returned with a giant cup of coffee and a cup of ice. Count this as one of the many things I noticed that I wouldn’t have expected. I would have thought Jackie would say, “You can grab a cup of coffee in the cafeteria.” But to get it for him? I didn’t expect that.
Like me, you’ve probably experienced in your past the medical professionals just doing their job and treating you like a task rather than a person. You feel their tiredness and their drudge as they draw blood, stick you under the x-ray machine, ask rapid-fire questions while gazing hypnotically at their laptop and typing your responses. Jerry often jokes the doctors roller skate in and roller skate out without so much as a hello. That’s how much attention he feels the doctors give him. Have you ever wondered why the doctors have wheels on their chairs? Doctors have a lot to do and need to get to the next patient. Time is money. “I sent your prescription to your pharmacy,” the doctor says as he sails out the door.
Not my surgeon, Dr. Benjamin Geer. He pulls up his wheelie-chair and sits facing me, makes eye contact and listens. He ranks, in my opinion, the best surgeon in Arizona. Perhaps the planet.
Many medical professionals throughout my broken hip experience made it clear they rated me as their top priority in honoring my dignity, seeking my comfort as well as my survival. Their caring and kind manner made me see the beauty of their souls.
People in this world don’t often receive hurrahs and thank yous for doing a good job. They only hear when they mess up. Because I felt so grateful to the first responders to Jerry’s 911 call, and to the nurses, and to my excellent surgeon for their concern and care for me, I decided to thank them for making my suffering a little, if not a whole lot, less.
At my follow-up visit to Dr. Geer, I thanked him with 24 granola bars and a cellophane-wrapped gift pack of almonds (I wanted to take him a triple-layer chocolate cake but he’s on a health kick). I attached a huge thank you note to the nuts and to the granola bars. He looked at me and said, “Now I feel bad I was late.” Yes, I waited a while in his tiny doctor office room before he entered, but who cares? Don’t ever feel bad Dr. Geer. You saved my life from a future of pain and misery or no future at all. I’ll forever be grateful to you. And besides, your nurse explained you take time with all of your patients and so you don’t always get in to the next patient right away.
I took a strawberry cheesecake, along with a thank you note, to the firefighters who responded to Jerry’s 911 call. One of the EMT’s said to me “Cheesecake is my weakness. It will be gone by 3 p.m. today.” Then he smiled at me and said, “I’m glad you’re doing so well. We don’t often hear back from the people we help.”
I plan to visit the nurses who cared for me after surgery and hugged me good-bye upon my discharge (hopefully they’re not on a health kick too because I have something sugary in mind). I also plan to visit the nursing assistant at the rehab facility who went out of his way to make my stay tolerable.
I’ve often heard it bemoaned that people don’t say thank you in these modern times. How often do you get a thank you note for a gift or a kindness or for just being you? Maybe sometimes. But how often?
Saying thank you to someone is important because it conveys the message they matter and you don’t take them for granted.
Jerry just said to me, “You can say thank you to me with a Winchester plane (this is a vintage woodworking tool he wants to add to his collection).”
“Well, yes, thank you Jerry,” I said and added, “I said thank you to you many times.” And of course I’m very grateful to Jerry for all that he did and does for me.
I’m reminded, family members need thank yous and hurrahs too.
“Okay, Jerry, how much does a Winchester plane cost?” ♥βω