This past Labor Day weekend was a tough one. Starting Tuesday, August 28th, I got a call from my parents’ assisted living facility. They were transporting my father to ER. Dad was having difficulty breathing and the residential care facility takes no chances – they call 911. It was 3:30 p.m. in the afternoon and I left for the hospital right after work at 5:00 p.m. In ER, the doctors and nurses worked their magic, got him stable and released him to me to take home later that night.
A few days reprieve and then Sunday morning at 6:00 a.m., I got the call again. My father felt like he was drowning this time and paramedics whisked him away. I got out of bed, threw on clothes, grabbed a cup of coffee that my husband handed me as I walked out the door and drove to ER. This time they kept him. And, he’s still there.
Then, Monday morning, Labor Day, I got a call from the assisted living facility that they were transporting my mother to ER. She had all the symptoms of an infection and since she was just released on August 24th after a bout with a serious illness, again, they took no chances and sent her to the hospital.
While in ER with my father both on Tuesday and again on Sunday, I met some wonderful, caring, patient doctors. As my father struggled to describe what he was feeling, ask questions and answer their questions, they listened patiently as he labored to find the right words, and responded with great care and concern. They showed immense respect for him as an individual, even though this was their first contact with him. They both, separately, explained to him what was happening to him and what to expect moving forward. The news was sobering and while my father does struggle to find words, his mind is sharp and their message did not escape him.
Likewise my mother on Monday. A physician’s assistant delivered the test results after waiting in ER for 6 hours. She was wonderfully kind, respectful and listened to my mother with tremendous care and concern. Again, she answered all of our questions and did not “rush” on to the next patient. We had her complete attention. At my mother’s request, the PA released her to go home with medications to stabilize her condition.
There is no cure for old age. While my parents’ health issues are very individualized and unique to them, they are experiencing them at the same time. While their hearts and minds are willing, their bodies are forsaking them and though the doctors can stabilize them, they cannot stop the progression. Number 9 of my Top Ten of earlier Murphy’s Law post, “none of us escapes (old age and the aging process) unless we die young.”
My mother was recently hospitalized on August 7th and in my despair, I wrote Many a Winding Turn and posted it on August 8th. Many, many wonderful nurses and doctors treated her over the course of those first two days and I’ll never forget their compassion, professionalism and concern. And, their marvel at her recovery. Medicine is a science, but miracles do occur and take us all by surprise (see The Sunshine Gang).
During my father’s last hospitalization in June, I met another “gifted man”; he didn’t remember me, not that I expected he would. But, I remembered him. As I left my father’s room for home, I saw this man, this doctor and recognized him. I walked over to say hello and to say thank you.
When we first met 5 years before, he saved my father’s life. My dad was brought into ER with a bleeding ulcer and not expected to live. But he did and this “gifted man” and his team of equally “gifted” colleagues saved him. My father was in ICU for 10 days and it was touch-and-go (see Both Sides of Clouds).
The point of sharing this with all of you is that I believe it is important to thank people for the impact they have had on our lives. I know we thank people every day. We thank our spouses for helping us, we thank our children for being good, we thank co-workers and colleagues for assisting on projects or for just opening the door; we thank strangers for aiding us with a myriad of different things or for countless other small courtesies or services (waiters, waitresses, cashiers, baggers, store employees, people over the phone whether clients, customers, or customer service reps; the list is long). We drop a “thank you” out of habit or manners, without thought or preamble.
But, do we stop to thank people who’ve had meaningful impact on our lives? Doctors, nurses, teachers, mentors, ministers, or others who’ve inspired us? Saying thank you and making it “real” is important all the way around. It is important to the receiver of the thank you because now the person knows that what they have done for you is meaningful and important. Being the person who says thank you is important because now you know that you’ve reached out to someone and let them know that they have made a positive impact on your life or have been a positive influence in your life and, by doing so, you have a sense of peace.
Don’t let tomorrow go by without saying thank you to someone of importance in your life. You’ll be glad you did.
P.S. Five years ago I wrote this doctor a letter thanking him. In addition, I wrote to the head of nursing at this hospital praising the wonderful team of caring, professional nurses and others who had provided my father amazing, outstanding care. We have now had 5 years more with my father (and still going) because of this remarkable group of people. It’s time for a new “thank you” letter to this health care team.
Until Next Time,
(other posts on eldercare)
- A Month of Sundays
- Both Side of Clouds
- Eldercare’s Blackhole
- Do You Have One of These?
- Many a Winding Turn
- Murphy’s Law
- Running on Empty
- The Gift
- The Sunshine Gang