The kindness of strangers


Stylish souvenir tote

There’s nothing like a backless hospital gown to make you realize how vulnerable you really are.  I spent much of yesterday in one, so I know.

First of all, no one needs to worry; I was in the hospital for a planned surgical procedure, but the procedure was for something absolutely non-sinister.  I don’t want to get too personal about my medical history on a blog, but you can trust me that there is no reason for alarm.  If a raging hypochondriac like me says everything is fine, believe me, everything is fine.

But I will say that the entire experience made me realize just how much we – and  specifically I  — need other people.

“Hospitals are fascinating,” said Scott, who was there with me before the surgery and in the post-op room.  “They are like these little worlds.”  And really, they are: busy worlds with systems and customs and protocol and residents who work together to make people like me come out of everything okay.  In my brief time there, we interacted with at least five nurses, one guy who came to do the blood test, one guy who did the EKG, the guys who wheeled me to and from the OR, the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, the fleet of attending folk in the OR, the nurse in the recovery room, and the elderly auxiliary volunteer in the maroon blazer who pushed me in a wheelchair out to the car.

It seems like so much fuss for just one person and one issue, but I’m glad they were all there.  And nearly everyone was so kind.  It’s one thing to have medical knowledge, and another to have both medical knowledge and a warm, calming demeanor.

As much as the medical issue itself wasn’t a huge deal, I will admit that I was nervous about the procedure.  I felt vulnerable in ways I normally don’t.  It’s not fun to feel like a badly-wrapped Christmas package in a paper gown,  not a whole lot of fun to have a stranger slapping EKG stickers on your chest,  not a lot of fun to need help getting out of bed and to the bathroom.  And the knowledge that I’d be totally out for an hour was slightly unsettling.

So I’m grateful for everyone who helped make it all a little less scary.  It may be a job for them, the thing they do every day, but for the patients, it’s kind of a big deal.

And I felt God’s presence there, in the nurse who distracted me with talk about her favorite English teacher while she put the IV in my hand, and in the recovery room nurse who was so kind as I swam out of my anesthesia fog and tried to get my bearings and no doubt made little to no sense, and in the skill of the surgeon who took care of it all and sealed me up neatly with glue.  (Odd to think that I was closed up with staples after my C-sections, with glue after this procedure.  What’s next — packing tape?).

I’m far more lucid today than I was yesterday, hence this blog post, and though it’s hard to be housebound, there’s something good about it, too.  It’s a forced chance to slow down, to rely on my  husband to make dinner instead of doing it myself.  It’s a chance to baby myself, which I don’t do very often, and it has prompted lots of hugs from both boys as well as the gift of a sweet, abstract impressionist drawing from my younger son.

And most of all, it’s reminded me that  God’s goodness shows up in lots of disguises, including blue scrubs.

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