Typically, I don’t begin a story by revealing a happy ending. But this time, I’m making an exception.
My dear husband is absolutely fine! This, after facing threatening medical conditions, being airlifted to a hospital in the dead of night, a 10-day hospitalization, and too many sleepless nights to count. Whew.
But while our attention focused on nothing but his recovery, it seems our dear country absolutely fell apart. From Orlando to Dallas and all points in between, I have no words for the tragedy that continues to plague the nation.
Instead, I would like to focus on all of the good people there are in the world by thanking those who crossed our path this last month. (I only wish I could remember all of their names!) It was the goodness of these strangers that truly carried us through our nightmare.
We found ourselves at Washington Hospital in Fremont, California. I’d never heard of this little gem, a facility that is surely overshadowed by the big names of its affiliate, UCSF, and Stanford. But I have never, ever experienced such kindness, compassion, knowledge, and skill than that which was delivered by the professionals working at this Magnet hospital. (“Magnet” status, as determined by the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center, is awarded to hospitals that satisfy a set of criteria designed to measure the strength and quality of their nursing.)
First up? The ICU staff, a dedicated group of nursing professionals who gently took us in and who ultimately, in one way or another, cared for all of us. (Our three kids and their spouses arrived before our plane had even landed.) I was repeatedly reassured by this staff’s competence and skills, their remarkable communication and compassion. Janette was on duty that night, quietly and tenderly caring for my husband, her nursing experience fluid and seamless. Throughout his stay in ICU, a parade of other stellar nurses came into our lives – Soledad, Jincy, Tasha – each one of them competent and best of all, so human in their caring approach.
I was immediately at ease when the neurological liaison, Linda, introduced herself to us. Good natured, clear and calm, she was the perfect mix for what we were facing. And then there was Dr. Jack Rose, neurologist, and Dr. Jeffery Thomas, neurosurgeon, a team I affectionately dubbed the Dynamic Duo. Naturally, all anyone wants is the most skilled professionals possible and these two delivered. But what made the situation even better was how thoroughly unpretentious and approachable these two men are. They have the admirable ability to listen, respect, and incorporate information and experience family members added to the discussion. Amazing!
I can’t forget James, the good-natured transporter who, day after day, wheeled my husband from test to test. What a wonderfully cheerful man, so dear in his treatment and care. His humor was delightful and James proved to be a real bright spot in the care my husband received.
We passed through nearly every department, finally coming to rest on the sixth floor. Kudos to the charge nurse, Maria, who managed to get my husband out into the rose garden. (This woman really understood the healing power of nature!) Prone to hands-on communication, she typically offered me a loving pat on the back. Aileen was a capable, bright, enthusiastic young nurse who hugged us when we left. The feelings were absolutely mutual! (I tried to recruit her to the north coast. Sorry, no luck.) There was also Kate, who was calm and good natured. And of course, one of our favorites, Jerome, a relatively new nurse who would never leave the room without turning to me and asking “can I get you anything?”
In light of what our nation is facing, and more personally, as white grandparents to a black granddaughter, as parents of gay children, and as a mother and father-in-law to two dear men of color, (‘Modern Family’ anyone?) I’ll close with one last observation. My husband and I agreed that Washington Hospital might also be quietly offering a cure for one of our nation’s most disturbing ills – bigotry. Throughout our experience, it seemed as though the majority of the staff were people of color, many also representing nationalities from around the globe. Together, they produced a collective competence that was overwhelmingly positive and their genuine compassion and kindness crossed every barrier imaginable. Ours was the quintessential human-to-human experience and we shall be forever in their debt.
It’s worth remembering in these difficult times that there truly are so many kind people in the world. How fortunate we were to discover the good people of Washington Hospital.