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
- My doctor came in immediately and wasted no time ordering the anti-nausea meds and the fluids.
- Likewise, the nurse was equally prompt, and he had me hooked up in minutes.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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: Author
, Gratitude Sunday
, Julie Hedlund
, Quotes on Gratitude