Thursday, October 27, 2016

Chronicles of a Baby Boomer - Compassion

They say there's a change that happens to you, once you've been in a hospital. Once you've been in a life threatening situation. And survived. And then gone through a grueling ascent, Odysseus like, clawing your way up from Hades.

An accident is hard. The ER is harder. Recovery is hardest.

I felt different once I recovered. More... Less... I don't know. Something different. I know that I had a lot of people visit me in the hospital. Some I don't remember. I was unconscious for much of the time. And then I remembered.

People. Family. Friends. Loved ones. Nursing staff. Doctors. Janitors. All of them loved. All of them welcome.

When I came out of the hospital I felt... different. My brother says there is something called the ICU syndrome. Not sure what that is. But I felt different. I felt a need to visit my friends in similar circumstances.

My friend, Bob, had surgery. He's a friend from the theatre. I visited him in Hartford Hospital.

I got there when he was first getting up. It was the first time they got him up and walking after his surgery. I was behind him with a wheelchair. The nurse was by his side, supporting him. His son, Andrew, was in front piloting the medicine tree.

We helped him walk, for the first time, after his surgery.

He'd take a few steps. And slowly pitch forward, his whole body leaning over. "Now, stand up straight, Bob," the nurse said. So he'd stand up straight and take a few more steps. Then he'd slowly pitch forward again. Again, the nurse would tell him he had to stand up straight. And he'd do so.

And then he'd pitch forward again.

After the third time I said "Bob, she's given you that note three times already." Good theatre humor.

Another time I visited friends in Hartford Children's Hospital. They had a daughter who had a urinary track problem that required surgery. But the problem was that she couldn't get it until she was older. When she was two she had her surgery.

I came to visit. Mom was in bed with the baby and dad was sitting near by. The surgery went well. She was doing fine. Harper, the little girl, had a bag of Cheerios that she could pick at. Mostly, she would take out a Cheerio, look at it, and throw it on the floor.

My kind of girl.

I thought later. I should have asked her for a Cheerio. Then if she gave me one, I could throw it on the floor myself! It looked like fun. Ah, well. A lost opportunity.

I visited other people. Recovering. Healing. In need. I made it a point to bring some honey. I'm a bee keeper and always have some honey about somewhere. When Bob was in rehab I brought him some Baklava.

People need people. You don't know how important it is. Until you're there.

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