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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Power of Appreciation

Last week, I was due to receive all three of my treatments on Hanukah: Herceptin, Taxol (plus four premedications), and Zomera/Denosumab. Though I let everyone know that I did not want to come for chemo two days running during Hanukkah, I knew that possibility existed.

When I found out that I also needed to do a full body X-ray (which is done every 25 weeks for the Zomera/Denosumab study and takes around 20-minutes) my hopes for one chemo day flickered, then waned.

But, it was Hanukah, after all.

My hope flickered again, then got stronger, as I noticed that everyone was doing their best to try and help me finish all my treatments in time.

In the end, I finished all of my treatments in one day!

When I got home and hugged my kids, I was overwhelmed by gratitude.

I wanted to do something to show my appreciation to the oncology staff.

I decided to make a "Certificate of Appreciation." It was a bit challenging for me to make it in Hebrew, especially since I wanted the wording to be an accurate reflection of how I felt. But I did it.

Then, I left it at home this Tuesday, when I went in for my next treatment (just Taxol).

I thought I would at least say thank you to the staff, but I got caught up in the details of the day and did not remember until I was finished and on my way out. I realized that I could not leave without expressing my thanks.

By this point, I know that things don't happen on their own in the chemo ward. There is so much that goes on "behind the scenes." The nurses work especially hard to make sure that we receive our treatments and the care that we need.

So I went back, and found the four nurses who helped me so much the week before. One by one, I told each nurse how much I appreciated the efforts that she made to ensure that I finished in one day.

Two of the nurses were clearly moved, much more than I expected. Their reaction made me realize how powerful appreciation can be.

I have been in chemotherapy for almost a year and a half now. Most of these nurses have been my health care providers and support team for the entire time. I was not always appreciative of their efforts or their bedside manner.

In the beginning, I was confused by often contradictory behavior. I could not understand why the same nurse could be so kind one moment and so impatient the next.

Over time, I learned to recognize when the nurses were busy, rushed or pulled in a thousand different directions. I learned to ask questions during the quieter moments, like when the nurse is opening my port (and only the two of us are in the room), or at the end of the day, when most of the patients have already left, and the ward is calmer and quieter.

I also learned that the nurses know all about us. They do their homework, they talk to the doctors, and they make sure that we get what we need, even when they are understaffed, overworked, and underpaid.

And they are a tremendous source of knowledge and support.

Most days, I just take it for granted that they will do what they need to do. But, last Tuesday, I could not help but notice that every one of them was really trying to accommodate my needs. I felt like I had an entire support staff taking care of me.

One of the nurses, when I thanked her, looked at me blankly at first. "For what?" she asked. When I told her, she laughed and said, "That's history; it's already forgotten." After all, they have done so much more since then.

"Well, I did not forget," I answered back, laughing along with her, "For me, it was a big deal."



Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,
RivkA

7 comments:

rickismom said...

A very good post. Yes, appreciation is good medicine (and free!) that anyone can receive.

Merry said...

Hi!

I read your blog quite often. It helps me to know how to pray for you and what is going on in your life.

I thank you for commenting on my blog. As you can see, I have a link to yours on my sidebar.

What I wanted to tell you is that I am a combination of Charlotte Mason and Classical Approach in homeschooling. I teach my children Latin and Logic. However, I believe in the 10-15 minute lessons. We are usually done with school by about 12 PM. Classical approach is intense because it means teaching the classics. I teach my children classical languages. Right now only Latin. I am considering Greek and Hebrew. I also focus on a more literature based lessons. For example, I read this wonderful grammar book to my son called Grammar-Land. Grammar is told in a story form. Judge Grammar is the king of Grammar-Land. He is the judge of the land and the different parts of speech, who are his noblemen, are presenting their case to him. It is a cute little story and unbeknownst to my son, he is learning grammar.

Well that's all. Ask more and I'll share. I write a report on what I do every week.

May the Lord bless you and keep you this day.

Happy Chanukah!
Sincerely,
Karen
www.homeschoolblogger.com/testimony

QuietusLeo said...

Being appreciated, is often the best part of the job.
I suggest that you write a letter of thanks to the chief of the department or the institution. It provides hospital workers additional warm fuzzies to know that the boss knows.

rickismom said...

brief version of story of son-in-laws lynching is under your comment on post of Israeli Politics

Noa said...

as a nurse, when patients take the extra time to say thank you, it makes me want to go the extra mile for them. sometimes they don't even say much, but you can see they really appreciated what you did, and that makes me want to do even more for them (beyond what my job requires). and sorry to say, but the extra rude patients often gets the extra minimal treatment. and what quietusleo said - at hadassah when a letter goes through the PR department, it ends up on the desk of the head nurse of the ward, the head nurse of the whole division, the head of the department, the head of the hospital and the employee's personal file.

Anonymous said...

I am the rehab. director in a nursing home in New york. Anytime we get a note of thanks it is shared with all those who had anything to do with that patient including our administrator. It feels really good to be appreciated for what we do especially when you work very hard and go beyond the call of duty.

Rivster said...

I think it is so wonderful when people take the time to thank those who have made an impact on their lives. We are so quick to complain but not always as quick to praise. So kol hakavod to you for taking time to express how the actions of others made a difference. What a gift you gave to them!