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The tag on my YogiTea today. Just in case I was going to forget the lesson I had learned…

I must admit I feel a little down in the dumps as I embark upon my 4th night in a row of feeling far less than stellar (and yet… I am able to write this post, which is more than I would have been able to do even hours ago, so that’s something…)

This week’s post is dedicated to the fine people of the Massachusetts General Hospital ER, the two paramedics who drove me there in an ambulance and the woman on duty with 911 Thursday night. They all stood in sharp contrast to the staff of the hotel where I was staying, who did nothing, and I do mean nothing, to help me when I needed it most.

I was in Boston to participate in a panel on writing Storybook Apps at the AWP conference. The panel went exceptionally well, and I had a great time.

Unfortunately, shortly thereafter I was hit with the neurovirus/fast-acting acute stomach flu that has been going around. I figured I’d suffer through on my own in the hotel room and then slowly nurse myself back to health.

However, after five hours of unrelenting illness, I had a particularly severe bout where afterward, I saw stars and then blacked out momentarily. I don’t think it was for very long, but after “coming to” on the floor of the the bathroom, I decided it wasn’t safe for me to be that sick on my own in a hotel room where nobody knew me.

I made my way to the front desk where I asked not one, but three people where the nearest hospital was, thinking I would take a taxi. NONE of them knew. I could barely stand up straight by this time and asked if someone could help me to the restroom. One woman pointed me in the general direction and left me to my devices. I didn’t think I could face asking more people for help, so I called 911 to find out which hospital to go to. I made this call from the floor of the lobby restroom.

The woman from 911 spoke to me in the endearing Boston accent:

“Where ah ya, honey?”

I had no idea. “Park Place? Plaza Hotel? Copley Place? Back Bay? South Bay? Any of this sound familiar?” Then I had to hang up.

Luckily, they called me back and by using their geolocation technology, had figured out where I was and told me an ambulance was coming.

“Oh no, no. That’s okay. Just tell me which hospital to go to and I’ll take a taxi.”

“Have ya seen the weather out there sweethaht? It’s a blizzard an ‘yer sick. Just have the doorman be on the lookout so they can find you.”

Back to the hotel staff, who told me the doorman had been gone for hours and I should wait between the two sets of sliding glass doors leading outside. I couldn’t stand, so once again, I slumped to the floor.

Two minutes later, when that ambulance pulled up and the paramedic jumped out to get me, I swear I’d never been so happy to see a person in my whole life. He held my hand the whole way to the ER and gave me the kind of assistance I’m sure a cabbie would not have been happy about.

Now, if you’ve ever been to an ER in the middle of blizzard in an urban area, you know there will be folks there trying to take shelter from the storm. So when they wheeled me in, I was blasted with the smell of blood alcohol. My paramedic took one look at my face and told the folks at the check-in desk that they could come to me for my info later because, “We gotta get her outta here.”

Whereupon he wheeled me straight into a room and got me set up in a bed and brought me blankets. I apologized for his trouble, and he said, “It was my pleasure, miss. You feel much better now, ya hear?”

Within 10 minutes, I had been given my first dose of anti-nausea medication (intravenously) and was hooked up to an IV drip of electrolyte solution. Ahhh.

My gratitude list this week contains a few of the many other kindnesses I received from the hospital staff that night. But the most important thing that came out of this experience was my realization that my life has been out of balance for a while. When you have nothing to see but the four walls of a hotel room for 36 hours, you do get some time for reflection.

I am exceptionally blessed to love what I do for a living. But even good things can be taken to extremes. Lately I’ve been putting work ahead of just about everything except my kids – exercise, cooking, sleeping, reading, visiting with friends – basically anything recreational. Broccoli is good for you, but not if you eat it to the exclusion of everything else. I have to remember the same is true of life. When it gets out of balance, you get sick. I need to create a better balance – starting now.

So yes, it is possible to find a way to be grateful for getting sick. 😉

Quotes on Gratitude

“A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.” — Tom Stoppard

“Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” — Hippocrates

“‘Tis healthy to be sick sometimes.” — Henry David Thoreau

Gratitude list for the week ending March 9

  1. My doctor came in immediately and wasted no time ordering the anti-nausea meds and the fluids.
  2. Likewise, the nurse was equally prompt, and he had me hooked up in minutes.
  3. My muscles ached so badly, it was as if they were on fire. It hurt to lay in the bed. When I mentioned this to the doctor during one of his check-ins, he ordered an intravenous dose of an ibuprofen-type medication to help me feel better. It worked.
  4. I got so cold from the IV drip that, despite the two blankets I already had, my teeth were chattering. The nurse noticed and brought me two extra blankets that had obviously just come out of some toaster oven-type appliance. Instant warmth!
  5. A woman from registration came and brought me a phone number I could call to complete my registration in a day or two “once I felt better.”
  6. My nurse got tied up with another patient, so my doctor brought me ginger ale. Let me repeat that. My DOCTOR brought me ginger ale (plus two extra cans to take back to the hotel with me). Much is said about the state of health care in this country, most of it not very flattering. My experience at this hospital reminded me of the many individuals on the “front lines” that care first and foremost about treating sick people.
  7. I must also applaud the miracle that is modern medicine – especially anti-nausea medication – which not only made my illness bearable, but enabled my body to accept the fluid it so desperately needed.
  8. After finding out I was a children’s author (and after I was feeling better), the doctor came in and asked me to recommend some books for his 5 year-old son who, in his words, was a reluctant reader. I loved that he cared so much about nurturing his son’s love of reading that he came to ask. By then I was feeling so much better and so grateful for his care, I wrote him a whole list before I left!
  9. When I checked out, the nurse walked me down the hall to a phone with a direct line to a cab company so I wouldn’t have to wait outside or for long.
  10. When I finally crawled back into my bed that night, I felt I had been truly taken care of.

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: Gratitude Sunday · Tags: , , , ,

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43 Comments

  1. Oh, Julie! What you’ve been through is just awful. The hotel staff really need to have lessons in compassion and in dealing with emergencies. Good grief! Thank goodness you received such wonderful care from everyone else. Yes, I think a step back, and some balance, are necessary. And some rest. Be gentle with yourself…

  2. Oh my, Julie! Sounds like you need another vacation to rest up. Praying for you!!

  3. Mass General is the best! I delivered 3 babies there!!

  4. Glad you are feeling better too!

  5. Wow, what a story. The 911 operator and the medics were angels! And, I’m so happy the hospital treated you so well. I know what it feels like to become very ill while away from home and it can be scary — especially when know one helped. When you mentioned balance, that thought had popped into my mind. You have been one busy lady! Hope you take the rest of the week to recover!

  6. Mary Ali-Masai

    Julie please take care of yourself. Rest and let your body, mind and spirit recover. My prayers and blessings are with you.

  7. HUGS. My word, friend. So many hugs. And ginger ale. Take care of yourself. Rest up for April!!

  8. I LOVE MASS GEN! I’m so glad you got the treatment you needed from the paramedics and hospital pros. Stay on that healing path, Julie. We’re ALL sending you prayers and angels and positive energy, I’m sure, so you can find your balance. And when you’re up to it, send that hotel a letter recapping the lack of assistance they gave you and strongly suggesting that they refund the full cost of your stay. (I’m sure they’re very worried about a lawsuit.)

  9. I am so glad you had the presence of mind to seek help as sick as you were! I think you need to give the hotel management some direct feedback. There is no excuse for their complete disregard for your welfare. We have wonderful people working in our healthcare system, and you were treated well. Now let your Energizer bunny self rest for a few days. Work, no matter how enjoyable or satisfying, is still work and will always be there for you. Take care.

  10. Oh dear Julie! What a trial. I am so glad you’re okay. Sounds like there were a few angels there around you…especially the Doc who prescribed ginger ale. Rest and recover. And I hope in your book recommendations to him you listed TROOP!

  11. PS…years ago I had a friend who gave me a small plaque insisting I hang it on my wall at work. It read…”I love my work so much that I’m going to save some of it for tomorrow.”
    It was good advice.

  12. Julie, I’m so glad you sought help–and were taken care of. The hospital staff sound lovely, and were probably glad to have such an appreciative patient. It’s great to hear someone speak the good in difficult times.

  13. Julie. I hope you are going to get better soon. You must have some rest.

  14. Julie, Hopefully you’re on the mend.
    Take care of yourself and continue to let others in to help.
    Rest.

  15. Oh my goodness, Julie. What an experience. I’m so glad you’re feeling better, and hope you continue to mend quickly. Do get some rest. And your point is well taken about balance – I am equally guilty of letting work take over, and consider your words a timely reminder that anything in excess isn’t healthy… even if it mostly feels like fun. Take care!

  16. OH my goodness Julie. I was exhausted and achy just reading this. YIKES. Glad you managed to get taken care of, but that’s a harrowing story.

  17. Julie,
    So sorry! Wish I had known–I would have loved to have been able to help you. If you ever are brave enough to visit Boston again, you can stay with me. You give so much to so many–do take care of yourself.

  18. Wow. What a story that sounds believable! I hope you get better-er! 😉

  19. Julie! That is a story in itself!! I’m so glad you are doing better. What a nightmare. I am slowing learning that I can’t do it all either, and need to concentrate on the important things for a season. I’m asking God for His wisdom. Thanks for sharing your incredible saga…hope you are back to good health very soon.

  20. Julie, I’m so glad you finally got the help you needed and hope you feel better and better each day. Your story reminds me of when I was about five years into my illustration career. Like you, I had put work above all else, which is easy to do when work is doing what you love to do. I had had several illustrated books published, and was busy working on a job late one night. Suddenly I “heard” a voice in my head, which I believe was of divine origin. It asked me a single question. “What do you remember?” Without a moment’s hesitation I replied, “Good times with loved ones.” From that moment on I tried to make more time to be with people I care about, because, ultimately, books go out of print and most of them are forgotten. But the love we have for each other is what we take into eternity.

  21. So happy to hear you are better and that some one finally helped you when you were away from home! Rest and take good care of yourself!

  22. Grateful you are feeling better. Grateful that for all the doofus’ we meet in life there are the amazing souls who make us smile.

  23. Good gracious Julie, I’m grateful they finally took care of you and you are on the mend.

  24. So happy to know that you are feeling better. Thank you for sharing your amazing odyssey that confirms the presence of Angels!

  25. Thank goodness you are feeling better, and thank goodness for those medical folks! The hotel staff, though, sound terrible! Who doesn’t even know where the nearest hospital is to their place of work? I’d have expected them to call 911 for you; that’s what a professional would do.

  26. I was in tears just sympathizing with your whole ordeal. God bless paramedics! I’m so glad there were meds and people to care for you.

    I hope you are writing the hotel to complain about their whole attitude toward a very sick guest. And letting Boston know what a great hospital they have…happy to hear you are recuperating. Don’t try to do anything before you’re ready…we want you with us for a looooong time!

  27. Oh Julie, I’m so sorry that happened to you! What a nightmare, and what a relief to be well taken care of. You should definitely write to the hotel management. Their response seems pretty unacceptable.

    I’m glad you are feeling better and hope you are home and comfortable in your own bed.

  28. I hope you are feeling much better both physically and mentally. What a horrible ordeal! My thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Elizabeth B.

  29. I can’t imagine how frightening it must have been, especially being so far from home. When you’re so sick, there’s only one place you want to be. I’m just recovering from a week of nasty flu, but it pales to your ordeal. Glad you are safe, and found the hidden treasures around you.

  30. Julie, what an ordeal! So glad you are feeling better. HUGS!

  31. Oh my goodness … I am so very sorry you went through all that! So glad you are feeling better now. And, so very glad you were so well taken care of (except by the hotel staff – – ughh!). I love stories of human kindness like this … it’s hopeful and inspirational. I wouldn’t wish what you had on anyone, but when you can find the kindnesses that came of it, it’s a wonderful thing. A friend of mine had the exact same thing last week … she, too, passed out, but was standing at the time, and ended up with 10 stitches in the back of her head. No one was home at the time (of course!), so she called 911, and was met with a similar experience … such caring and thoughtful EMTs and medical staff at the hospital. Thank you, too, for the reminder about balance in life … you are so very right! Take care and get some extra rest this week.

  32. I’m glad to see you are gradually bouncing back, Julie. What an experience! Your true story is captivating. I’m glad that horrid beginning and middle had a satisfying ending. Balance is so important. What a blessing to have at least had that revelation.

  33. Melanie Ellsworth

    It’s good to hear something so positive about an ER experience, but how awful about the hotel – can’t imagine what they were thinking! I hope you get rested and it doesn’t take too long for a full recovery.

  34. OMGoodness. What a story! I am grateful NOT to have contracted that evil norovirus. And grateful that the EMS and hospital staff took such good care of you. Am I the only one DYING to know the name and address of that hotel??

  35. Joyce Richardson

    Julie, thank you so much for sharing. My heart over flows with gratitude for the wonderful and excellent care you received both from 911 and the hospital staff.

    I, too, can give thanks for illness. I have taken more than one ride to the hospital via an emergency transport. Both were very positive experiences. And both times I received excellent, compassionate care. But the biggest praise for two of the times was having a diagnosis. One time I had been ill for 3 weeks and had been back and forth to the doctor and labs multiple times without a diagnosis. Everyone confirmed I was indeed very ill, but couldn’t figure it out. The ER doctor was able to identify the problem almost immediately. I was still sick, still felt miserable and couldn’t stand up; but it was wonderful to finally know what the problem was and how to deal with it. I was for another three weeks and it took a full two years to completely recover.

    I am so thankful for skilled physicians and caring medical staff.

  36. Take care, Julie. A lesson well learned, I think.

  37. Julie, I hope you feel better soon. I admire how you always find something to be grateful for; what a great trait to have.

  38. Sorry you had a horrible experience, Julie. The stomach virus is no fun. And to suffer through that with no sympathy or assistance at all. Thank goodness the perimedics came for you. Well, rest up. You are a trooper. May your hubby and kids pamper you!

  39. So sorry you were sick and the hotel people were punks. So glad that everyone else was so lovely. LOVE that your doctor came to ask you for book recommendations, that’s beyond cute. My family and I had the norovirus, me worst of all of us, NOT fun.

  40. Oh, Julie. I am so sorry you have had to go through all of this. And I’m relieved for you that you’re home safe and sound. What an ordeal! I hope you are feeling a million times better today. Sending hugs and healing thoughts your way. Really hope to see you Wednesday. Please call if I can help you with your kids, or errands, or anything. Beth

  41. I’m glad you had the wonderful 911 lady and hospital staff, and sorry for that horrible hotel staff. I, too, would like to know what hotel (as mentioned above) so I can keep the heck away! Charming lot, that.
    Hope you feel like yourself again soon, Julie.

  42. Deborah Beauchamp

    Glad to hear you are safe and on the mend. The stomach virus is always the worst!

  43. I am grateful for this uplifting account of redemption after a harrowing situation! Life’s twists and turns at times rewards us with renewed faith in the human race!

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