My sister, Kim, has a rare neurological disorder. It causes her to have seizures, to even become temporarily paralyzed. The worst part: the disease is progressive…she’s getting worse. Doctors once told my mom that they didn’t expect my sister to live past 25. But that’s the thing about my sister…even though her disease may make her “weak”, she is by far the strongest person I know…and a true miracle. This year we celebrated her 30th birthday.
Over the years, my family and I have spent a lot of time in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. I hate it there. Just walking down the halls, seeing the waiting room, makes me feel terrified, hopeless and scared. Every time I go there, I worry for the worst. I worry about my little sister.
When I thought about what act of kindness I’d like to do today, for some reason my mind drifted back to those times I spent in the ICU…and then I knew who I wanted to help.
I picked up the phone and was transferred to the ICU at the hospital. A nurse, Nichole, answered. With the strict privacy laws, I knew she couldn’t share details about any of the patients currently there, but that was ok. I wasn’t calling about the patients…I was calling to help one of the families. I wanted to know if there was a family who was spending a lot of time at the hospital visiting a loved one. I know exactly what they’re going through–the stress, the tears, the worry.
Nichole loved the idea and started telling me a little bit about one family in particular. They’re at the hospital constantly–and would love a kind surprise.
So I put together a small care package for them: bottled water, fruit, chocolates, crackers (key essentials for the surviving the hospital waiting rooms) and my daughter and I headed to the hospital.
Unfortunately, timing was not on my side. When I arrived at the ICU, Nichole came out to talk with me…the family had just left the hospital moments ago. But sometimes when things don’t go as you plan, it opens up an opportunity for something even more amazing. And that’s exactly what happened. Let me explain…
I got the chance to talk more with Nichole. She wanted to know about my sister and my 30 Day Christmas Challenge. As I was sharing some of my favorite moments from my challenge, another nurse walked out of the ICU. “Theressa–come over here! You have to meet this woman and hear this!”
I don’t think I did anything extraordinary today…my care package was very simple. But it was clear that it wasn’t the package that impressed these nurses…it was the thought.
“Wow! I love the idea of doing an act of kindness every day…I want to do this with my family.” I loved hearing one of the nurses say this. I told them about my blog and how I was writing about my experiences each day to hopefully inspire others. They wanted to read it. They invited my daughter and I inside the ICU so we could exchange contact information.
And that’s when it happened.
While Nichole was writing down her e-mail address, she started telling the other workers about me, my blog…and about my sister.
There was something about standing there in the ICU…seeing the patient rooms…it instantly brought back all the memories of my family and I being there to visit my sister.
Cue the water works.
I couldn’t hold back the tears. I tried my best to say what I was feeling: gratitude. With the tears swelling in my eyes, I did the best I could. “My sister has been in the ICU a lot. The love and care that the ICU team has given her has been amazing. Thank you.”
I stood there in the middle of the ICU and hugged Nichole. I really can’t put into words my absolute respect, admiration and gratitude to the people who work in the healthcare industy. Angels on earth–that’s what they are.
When I got home, I e-mailed Nichole to thank her again for her help. And few hours later, I had a response:
Hi Kelly! It was wonderful meeting you today as well!!! I have already shared your blog with 3 people and will be emailing this to everyone here at work. You are such an inspiration! I’m so happy you called the hospital today and I was the one who got to speak with you! 🙂 Thanks for being such a kind and loving person! I will keep you posted on the patient in room 3. Happy Holidays to you and your beautiful family!
Kindness has a way of bonding people together.
I hate the ICU, but today it was a good place. I got to leave a surprise for a family who needs cheer, thank a team who is the definition of love and compassion…and I got to make a new friend, Nichole.