As I walked into the room, I see my patient laying in bed, eyes closed. His wife of 50+ years sat on the recliner next to him, grasping his right hand. The holiday season was upon us. My patient has spent the better part of the last month in the hospital.
My patient’s wife was staring at the pretty scenery outside with her weary, tired eyes. It had started snowing this morning. Tiny snowflakes were falling onto the ground, creating a pretty pattern all around. It was not so pretty inside. My patient lay on the bed, a gaunt look on his cheeks and evidence of his 60 lbs weight loss the past 3 months clearly visible on his light frame. He was jaundiced.
I had the patient’s pathology report in my hand. News was not good – stage 4 pancreatic cancer, with spread to the common bile duct and liver. I nodded at his wife and was going to return later to tell him the bad news. His eyes fluttered open and with a weak smile on his face, he said “Hi doc, how are you today?”
I took a deep breath and sat down on a folding chair next to the patient and his wife. Working in hospital medicine, I deal with patients who are grieving, angry, and feeling hopeless. Often times, I am the first person telling them of their new cancer diagnosis, or calling a loved one to tell them of their mother’s severe cardiac arrest is not survivable, that they should make arrangements to get here ASAP. It does not get easier the next time around.
I explained the findings in lay terms to the both of them. His wife sobbed quietly. I handed her a tissue and gave her a hug. As I stood up, unshed tears in my eyes, my patient held onto my hand with a stronger grasp.
“It is okay, doc. We now know why I am so weak. Why I can’t eat. We all die one day. I want to go home.”
His wife agreed.
Getting Home for the Holiday Season
I promised him we will make that happen. Never mind it is the holiday weekend, and no hospice agencies will be open. No medical transport will be available until Monday – which will be five days from now. I wrote scripts for pain medications and anxiety medications, and our case manager got those filled at the hospital. His wife gathered 4 friends who came and helped transport him home, at the back of a SUV. “We will carry him into the house,”they promised.
Three hours later, I waved goodbye to him in the hallway as the transport team helped push him on a stretcher out to the parking lot. Knowing this will likely be the last time I will see him. Although I am not his primary care doctor, I felt we had a connection as I had taken care of him multiple times the past 5 years in the hospital.
“Thank you doc, for everything you did. I appreciate it.”
A week later, I received a card from his wife telling me of his peaceful passing at home. Surrounded by his loved ones. Thanking me for fulfilling his last wish.
As we approach this holiday season, and after reading Chief Mom Officer’s I’m Sick of Christmas Materialism – Instead Lets Make a Difference #actsofkindness, it reminded me of how lucky we are. To be able to make a difference in the lives of those we encounter in our daily lives. Not matter what we do and who we are.
Thank you, for the sandwich and hot chocolate!
I remember being on the receiving end of this many times as well.
I was in my 9th month of pregnancy, working my third evening shift in a row. The computer system crashed two hours ago. We were frantically pulling out old paper orders to write. Labs were printed on paper which had to be manually retrieved from the lab office and brought to the Emergency Room (ER) where I was. Six more patients were waiting to be admitted in the ER, which is now at full capacity with another 15 patients in the waiting area. I looked up at the clock and realized it was 8.30pm. The cafeteria closed 30 minutes ago and I had not had any dinner yet. An ER nurse heard my gasp, and asked what was the matter. He came back shortly after with a freshly made grilled cheese sandwich and a piping hot cup of hot chocolate.
Although we aim to make a difference year round, the holiday season is a good time to start thinking of making more of a difference.
The world today is going through a lot of turbulence. The uncertainties surrounding the Korean Peninsula, threats of nuclear war on an international front. Two major shootings in the United States within the past few months. The high level of homelessness and lack of warming shelters in the town I live in.
In the midst of the evils around us, let us all make a difference, one step at a time.
I have no defined number of acts of kindness to get to this year, but I do aim to keep a tally of some here. I will add as we go along until end of 2017.
I hope that like Chiefmomofficer.org had inspired me to pen these down and make even more of an effort to make a difference, it will inspire you to do the same. We normally include a personalized card with our donation as well.
Please comment below:
- Bought a bike for my office staff’s grand-daughter (who recently lost her father) and the family is dealing with a ton of medical bills.
- Got a homeless patient back to his mother, who lives 4 states away.
- Helped a lady who didn’t have enough money at the cash register to purchase a cantaloupe her son was asking for.
- Gave away my daughter’s infant car seat she outgrew to a family in need who posted of their request on Facebook.
- Bought food for the church ‘backpack’ program, so impoverished children can have a backpack of food to tie them over during the Thanksgiving break. These children normally qualify for free breakfast and lunch during the school year.
- Participated in charity tennis event in aid of Puerto Rico – raised over 2K!
- Sent items on Amazon wishlist to Puerto Rico.
- Sponsor 10 children as part of the wishing tree program at my child’s school – managed to buy 4 fingerling monkeys that were requested on Cyber Monday!
More to come!
This is a series of articles from other Personal Finance Bloggers sharing their #actsofkindness:
- Original poster: ChiefMomOfficer: I’m Sick of Christmas Materialism – Instead Lets Make a Difference #actsofkindness
- Anchor: ForeignBornMD: Holiday Season, Giving Back #actsofkindness
- 1st chain: KiwiandKeweenaw Simplifying through #ActsofKindness – Kiwi and Keweenaw
- 2nd chain: PhysicianOnFire A Quarter Million in DAF – A Retirement Goal Achieved
- 3rd chain: BudgetOnAStick An Unexpected Gift
- Link 6: Working Optional – Thankful For What I Have Received
- Link 7: Mama Fish Saves – Top Charities To Get Kids Involved In Giving
- Link 8: Grounded Engineer – Giving Thanks and Why I’m Considering a Donor Advised Fund
- Link 9: 99to1percent Giving Thanks and the 6 Gifts that Keeps Giving
- Link 10: Sarah One Small Thing
- Link 11: Jenny The Best Thing You Can Give Your Family? Kindness
- Link 12: Downsize Your 2080 Think Outside the Christmas Gift Box
- Link 13: The Three Year Experiment The Best Christmas Gifts for That Person Who Has It All
- Link 14: Matt Using Your Platform to Help Others
- Link 15: Millionaire Doc Volunteerism, #ActsofKindness
- Link 16: Atypicallife Holiday Season Acts of Kindness
- Link 17: WealthRehab ‘Tis the Season for Giving
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