The Kindness of Strangers

As you know, Bob, I recently spent a week in hospital. I was in a four-bedded bay and the throughput of patients was pretty rapid, so I was thrown in with quite a few people. Most of us were post-op and all of us were in pain – at times I felt guilty that my pain relief was so effective that I wasn’t suffering as much as some of the others.

What amazed me was the level of kindness and caring that developed between the patients on the ward. Magazines and newspapers were shared, and most people talked openly and honestly about why they were there and what treatment they’d had. Those conversations helped pass the time and were filled with much laughter. The most mobile of us, a woman in a wheelchair, made numerous trips to the hospital shop and never failed to ask if anyone wanted anything before she left. She also helped one of the other patients who was having trouble working her phone, and all of us let other patients use their phones when they ran out of credit or charge. There was a very expensive bedside TV and phone set-up, and everyone who had bought some time on it and then was discharged made sure to transfer the unused time to someone else, so as not to waste it. Best of all, when you were awake and in pain in the middle of the night, a voice would come out of the darkness saying “Are you all right? Do you want me to call a nurse for you?”

In these times when the news is full of horror and terrible things, it was a surprise to find that people could be so nice, especially folks thrown together by misfortune and illness. I’ll probably never meet any of those women again, which is a shame, as I want to know how they are now. I hope that they’re all recovering well and that the outcome of their surgeries was as positive as mine.

So, to all of you, particularly Tasha, Jeanette and Janet, thanks for making my time on the ward better in so many ways.

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