No quote has ever been more true. Most of you reading this either work in health care or have an interest in health care and for those of you who work in health care experience tells me there have been days that you walked away from your job and it was hard for you to identify anything to be thankful for.
Health care workers see bad stuff. They identify terminal illness and deliver terrible news, they are involved in situations that are too horrific to imagine yet they are someone’s reality. No matter how horrid the situation a health care worker replaces their personal feelings with empathy and compassion and keeps coming back for more day after day. Why do they do it – because they understand every situation, no matter how dire, provides an opportunity to be thankful.
Health care workers are thankful they’ve been trusted to be a part of someone’s today, tomorrow and even last moments. Health care workers are thankful for the opportunity to administer pain medication, a supportive word, a hug and even silence when the time is right. Health care workers are thankful for the opportunity to fulfill a promise of “I’ll be right here” and thankful for the hope inspired by a person who wasn’t supposed to make it through the night three days ago. Health care workers are thankful that faith exists and will provide for better outcomes than tests and medications because they know there’s not a pill for everything but they know from experience that faith can cure anything. Health care workers are thankful that every difficult situation has a sliver lining and every bad outcome can have a good result. Health care workers are thankful that a goodbye eases pain and that the chance for a goodbye can prolong life. Health care workers are thankful that every patient is a son or daughter and every patient has been the center of someone’s world.
Most importantly, health care workers are thankful there’s always hope. Every health care worker has what I call a “miracle story”. A story in which a situation didn’t unfold as expected. A story in which the outcome was certain but didn’t occur as predicted. A story in which a patient beat the odds or a co-worker performed a selfless act. A story that without context doesn’t inspire but when details are shared causes tears and a smile at the same time. Every health care worker has, or knows, a “miracle story”.
As we approach Thanksgiving I encourage you to stop for a moment to remember your “miracle story”. Maybe your story involves a co-worker holding the hand of a dying patient so the patient wouldn’t be alone, maybe your story involves parents who lost their daughter at birth and then created a support system to comfort those who experience the same tragedy, maybe your story involves a patient who wasn’t supposed to make it out of emergency surgery only to hang on for two days to say goodbye to a child who was out of the country at the time of surgery, maybe your story involves an elderly patient who survived after falling outside in subzero weather and lying on the ground for more than a day before being found but who knew his wife with Alzheimer’s couldn’t survive without his help, maybe your story involves a patient who had a stroke and was told she’d never walk but now parks in the back row wherever she goes so that she can walk a little farther with her cane, maybe your story involves a patient who had an abdominal aortic aneurysm and was placed on a helicopter with no chance to live but beat the odds and then married the love of her life.
These are just a few of the “miracle stories” I’ve witnessed at GVMH, I’m sure yours are better and maybe your story will help to remind you of the blessings in your life as you celebrate Thanksgiving and all the things you have to be thankful for.