I came across a jumper the other day. It was a picture on Instagram. There was nothing special about the jumper, it was white, no hood, no sparkle, no pockets – nothing extraordinary about it. Just a small black lettered slogan that was written across its chest, saying “In a world where you can be anything, be kind” … what an amazing sentiment. For me personally, that brought me immediately to those moments when I needed kindness the most. Those moments when I was the most vulnerable, exposed, alone and had to trust complete strangers with the most intimate, private things.
Imagine …It’s morning, you are in a hospital bed and the past 12 hours are being played through your brain over and over again like a broken record: Lying on the cold wet road your body all distorted. Strange faces hovering over you telling you to hold on, that you are almost there. Being rushed from an ambulance to A&E, from one scan to another, then MRI while thousands of faceless voices ask you a million questions which you either don’t understand or are scared to answer, while some strange hands grab your sheet “aaaand on three! One, two, three and up and slide!” – it hurts – a lot – and you can’t move … ‘’you are not allowed to move,’’ – some voice gives you an order.
You are heavily drugged, and everything seems to be a blur, especially faces. Things are done to you, quickly and efficiently, silently. And then you are transferred to a bed which is excruciating. Oh, did I mention, your pelvis is in pieces and your spine is fractured, but you don’t know that yet – not having feeling in your legs but being able to feel nothing but searing pain regardless, is petrifying. Having no answers is petrifying. The complete and utter unknown is petrifying.
It’s the middle of the night now and it’s all very VERY still … you are left alone. From all this noise and madness, you enter this eery nothingness and you wonder. And then the lights are on and the busy rush starts all over again, my blood pressure is being measured, together with my temperature, lots of looks at the board at the end of my bed from strangers – quick scribble, quick nod to themselves – strangers’ backs walking briskly away, busy scribbling over their pads; excruciating washing where you beg with tears not to be moved, huddle of scary doctors (I assume? as none really explain to me who they all are or why they are there) with serious faces, nods, reading their notes, turning their backs to me again and explaining, I assume again, my stuff to the rest of the group – me watching them – and a funny sentence comes to my head “about me without me”!
And all this feels like it all happens within 5 minutes … I am left alone – who is going to talk to me? stop and explain? help me, be kind to me?? … I can’t bother anyone, they all seem so very busy … let’s not bother and wait my turn, it must come, right? Tears flood my eyes and I have never felt more alone and powerless … I can’t even sit up and pull the curtain around my bed to get some privacy, because I can’t move… I can’t keep that last bit of dignity I so desperately try to hold onto. … all I am able to do is to put my arm over my face and try to cover my eyes so no one can witness my despair and let the tears flow, pathetic.…. and then…. this voice interrupts and I look up to see who is that?
And it’s a guy, dressed in white and green, tall, and I just stare because I am so scared and I have no idea what I can do or say, petrified that I will have to try yet again to persuade yet another person not to move me, scared of what else I need to answer, what would he want from me? But all he simply does is smile with kindness, asking if he can sit down and speak to me. I nod silently, watching carefully. And he reaches for a chair next to my bed, he sits, making sure we are on the same eye level and kindly says “Hi, my name is Paul, I will be your occupational therapist. Can I call you Eva”? – another watchful nod from me …. “Do you know why you are here?” – ‘’I think I was in an accident’’ I whisper quietly … “You must be in a lot of pain” – empathy in his voice …. Silent tears escape from the corner of my eye because this is the first and much needed act of kindness shown to me. It took him 10 seconds to do that. You might not think much about what he did, but making sure he doesn’t tower over the bed, asking if he can sit down… he actually looks at me when he talks to me and when I reply he is not busy writing away on pads and charts, acknowledging my pain, wanting to know my name … and just because of that I have trusted my occupational therapist, Paul, ever since. I felt it was the first person that really listened to me and thought of me as a human being, not a bed number or a pelvis fracture.
And that is also why I love Bridges’ way of working. The smallest acts of kindness can go miles, it ‘bridges’ people … and those little acts of kindness can be done on any part of a journey to recovery … whether it’s an acute setting or, once back in the community, at home.
As a team we share the same ethos and philosophy that drives our passion to create the best experience and environment for patients to live well. Bridges provide opportunities for both patients and professionals to work collaboratively to enhance self-management skills, knowledge and confidence.
You can reach us by email email@example.com