Today was a humbling day; a day that makes me grateful for all the good fortune my family enjoys. Today was a day that reminded me of things I take for granted like time, health and independence. Once a week I volunteer at a local hospital in a department that tests for neurological disorders. Today, we met a veteran who was living a life he probably never imagined as a triple amputee. In the afternoon, we saw another remarkable young adult, actually the same age as my son, who had two types of cancer and had already exhausted all the chemo options. For privacy and out of respect, I won’t share the details of their stories but I will say they were kind, polite, interesting and hopeful people. They were everything I’m not sure I could be if I were living this day in their shoes.
Driving in for my shift, my head was full of things I thought were problems. Stop sign. Brake. I listened annoyingly to the bags of donation stuff shift in the back of my car. They have been there a month but I keep getting busy…or distracted. Red light. Stop. I casually sniff the sleeve of my uniform smock. Was it fresh enough? I really should have washed it but I forgot. Another item for the heaping pile of laundry awaiting me at home. Blinker. Turn. I’d like to go out for dinner tonight but I really should just make the veggie lasagna I had planned. Down. Park. Do we have any obligations this weekend? Mirror. Check teeth. Should we go paddle boarding? Ding…door opens. I’ve GOT to figure out my blog post! It’s already a day late and I’ve worked through 3 different possibilities. Concerned strangers. Smile. A recipe, I should do the potato waffle recipe. Do I have pictures? Warm copy paper. Patient’s name. Time to work and all the mindless chatter in my head stops.
Our test takes over an hour to complete so we joke a little and ask questions to get to know the patient and help them relax. I make them as comfortable as possible, offering a warmed blanket or a pillow for under their knees. I listen to their stories unfold as the tech gathers all the information of what brought them there this day… symptoms, medications, questions, concerns. It is always a picture of a life interrupted. A life that is now consumed with appointments and treatments and frustration and hope. After four hours, I go home. I put my badge away and hang my smock up until next week. Some days I can do this routine with just a mild sense of relief that I’m not dealing with a health issue and all the logistical, financial and emotional baggage attached to illness. Some days though, like today, my badge feels heavy in my hand and I am embarrassed at the frivolous thoughts that occupied my mind on the way in. Days like today make me want my kids to be little again so I can scoop them up, give them cuddles and smell the sweetness on their soft skin. Days like today make me want to sit and pet my kitty, Maisy until she falls asleep, purring contently. Days like today make me want to quietly watch the vibrant colors of the sunset, hold my husbands hand, enjoy a slow glass of wine, call my parents just to say hello or waste a day away reading a good book. Days like today I end by hiding under my cool sheet with the ceiling fan gently blowing the busy thoughts away so that all that is left is a simple prayer of complete gratitude.
I hope each of you can spend at least a part of your weekend enjoying the pure and simply wonderful bits of your life. Take care. Be kind. Live well. Breath deeply. Smile truly . . . and don’t forget to pet your dog or kitty or hamster and give someone a hug.
I’ll talk to you next week …maybe about super yummy potato waffles… or shaving cream painting or kitty hammocks or a gnasty gnat update…hmmm? So many options but right now, it’s cuddle time.