BRODY: The kind of kindness that sticks with you
I know full well this could not, or would not, happen today in any U.S. hospital because of the coronavirus.
But back in July of 2009, it did happen, and because it happened to me, I know it’s true.
Because I am always looking for positive, happy stories, this story really touched me.
You know how a serious, potentially hard and sad situation can turn into something else, like very funny? Well, that is what happened to Gene and me.
When Gene went for his cancer infusions, I always went along.
It involved him lying in a bed while a drug to kill cancer cells slowly dripped into his veins.
The first infusion took eight hours.
I sat in a chair by his bed, and for awhile, we talked, but after awhile, I began to nod off.
Have you ever tried desperately to stay awake and alert, but your eyes begin to close and your head begins to fall forward? When you check yourself, your head snaps back up. It is embarrassing.
When I was in college, there was a professor who gave long, boring lectures with no voice inflections — nothing to hold my attention, and inevitably, my head would start its downward slope until I would come to, and snap it back upright.
That is what I began to do as I sat in a chair next to Gene’s bed.
I guess I did this sitting with Gene a lot, because a nurse came over to me and said quietly, “Honey, are you just worn out?”
I just looked at her and nodded. “Listen,” she continued, “there is an empty bed next to your husband’s bed. If you just give me a second, I can make it up for you and you can climb right in.”
“Really?” I said. “And what if somebody wheels me, bed and all, and gives me a colonoscopy? Or worse?”
As tempting as it was, I was dead serious.
The nurse laughed again, and assured me nobody would wheel me or the bed anywhere.
That kind soul of a nurse, by George, set about to make up that spare bed, and sort of bowed to me, “It is all yours,” she said.
I kicked off my shoes, climbed into that nice clean bed, and within minutes, I was sound asleep. Some three hours later, I opened my eyes. Gene was reading a book. The IV bag was dripping along, putting its potent substance into his veins, and I felt worlds better.
I don’t know if you find this funny, but I sure do.
I know that nurse went way beyond her duty to take care of the patient and the caregiver. Believe me, it did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. A kindness like that nurse gave to me I will never forget.
She risked her job to help me because she knew all about “caregiver fatigue.”
Was this a little country hospital? Absolutely not. It was a mid-sized hospital and the doctors and nurses had been trained in a new human approach to total care of the patient, caregiver and the family.
It makes me wonder if that kind of empathy would be offered without the coronavirus.
Actually, I wonder what we, as part of a family, as part of a nation, or an individual, will take away from this pandemic?
I pray we will have learned, but I do wonder.
Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in The Sun for more than 25 years.