Gratitude for Those on the Medical Front LInes

Nov 26, 2020 | CNA, COVID, featured, Getting Past Your Breakup, gratitude, grief, hospitals, Lupus, nurses, thanksgiving

by Susan J. Elliott, J.D., M.Ed.

Author, Attorney, Podcaster, Media Commentator, Motivational Speaker, Blogger, and Creator of the World's Most Successful Breakup Program. For more information about becoming happy, healthy and whole after a breakup, visit Program Resources and join us on the PRIVATE Facebook Group, 

  • Getting Past Your Breakup: How To Turn A Devastating Loss Into The Best Thing That Ever Happened To You (Hachette Book Group 2009)
  • Getting Back Out There: Secrets to Successful Dating and Finding Real Love After the Big Breakup (Hachette Book Group 2015)
  • Getting Past Your Past Workbook: The Definitive Workbook to Emotional Healing, Health and Happiness (La Bella Vita Publishing 2012)
  • GPYP Power! Affirmations (La Bella Vita Publishing 2019) 

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Gratitude in the Age of COVID

It’s Thanksgiving in the US after a particularly rough “most of the year.” The Getting Past Your Breakup program is about working out the bad (grieving, healing old wounds from other losses and childhood etc) while working in the good (affirmations, self care, and gratitude). The GPYB materials often quote M. Scott Peck who said, “Love is an action.” We add “Gratitude is an action.” as well.  Because it is. 

At the start of the lockdown, I became quite ill and later I sustained several injuries and wound up in the hospital. During that difficult stretch (from March until the end of August), I was helped by so many – my wonderful moderators who ran the Facebook group while I was MIA, my terrific boot campers who had managed to hang tight and work hard (and do weekly calls) when I was not even able to type a few words into the computer, my clients who were patient and kind even when they had no idea where I was or what was happening – but they knew something had to be up if I just vanished… of course the fantabulous Meanies [to whom I just posted a message of gratitude and 2 podcasts on Patreon–https://www.patreon.com/meanladytalking], the long-time FB group members – some who knew my situation and some who didn’t – who helped welcome newcomers … so many more members of the GPYB family I could name here…

The Medical Front Line Workers

But if I have to vote for who wins the biggest gratitude prize from me this year, it would have to be the nurses and CNAs when I was admitted to the hospital – after crawling in there unable to take one more day of pain – 4 days after a significant tumble down quite a lot of stairs.

When I first got to the hospital, I truly wanted to bolt across the parking lot and not ever look back. The fact that I couldn’t walk put a bit of a crimp into those plans.

I had a fractured arm and a fractured pelvis. Not only that, but there was bleeding around the pelvic fracture AND I’m seriously anemic and my blood count was low. Thanks to modern technology, they were able to see that – during my stay 2 years ago – I had 3 blood transfusions. They warned me of the dangers of going home with blood counts that low…and talked me into staying. I told them I’d stay for a few hours, but then I had to be going. The doctors smiled, nodded, handed me over to the poor, bewildered nurses, and beat feet away from me.

But, the pall over the hospital was thick. I have been hospitalized there several times over the past 7 years and the atmosphere this year was unlike any other time I’d been there. Families couldn’t visit, staff was exhausted and the place just felt dreary and heavy.

I objected strenuously to being kept there and kept insisting I was well enough to leave. No one seemed to agree with me. They brought me to my room and gave me some nice scrubs to wear and a toiletry kit and some headphones for the television. I don’t need no stinking television. I’m only going to be here for a few hours… GOT IT? A FEW HOURS. When the hours turned into a day and a day turned into two, my mood grew decidedly more sour.

I complained and complained and kept frowning at everyone who came into the room and bleating out, WHEN CAN I GO HOME?!?!???? to anyone who would listen. Or had to listen due to some unfortunate (for them) set of circumstances that managed to bring us together. The maintenance man who came to adjust the poorly working thermostat said he had no idea. It may be my imagination or a guilty conscience, but I’m pretty sure I also heard him say, under his breath, “Soon I hope….”

When I tested negative for COVID and was released from isolation, I calmed down enough to work with PT and practiced strolling around the hallways with my walker. At one point I almost toppled over and the PT therapist rushed in to grab me. I snarled at him, “I HAVE THIS.” Back off, buddy. He had at least a foot and a half and about 100 lbs on me, but he looked scared.

When I got back to my room, a lovely woman was laying out my wash basin to help me clean up for the day. The 3 of us tried to get me back into bed, but the bed was in the lowest position and I still couldn’t lift myself back in. Between the pain in my pelvis and my inability to use my left arm, it was pretty hopeless. Every time I tried to hop on in, the pain shot through my pelvis and I thought I’d just stand up until discharge.

The lovely woman and the lovely man managed to 1-2-3 me into the bed and I landed, not very gracefully, but with much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Two more lovely people came with lunch. One brought the tray and one, appearing to be in training, brought the menu. There was this jockeying for position on my bedside table as they tried to push the wash basin to the side and the wash basin lady pushed it back in the center.

The PT therapist was trying to get my attention, to show me some features of the walker. The man with the menu wanted to explain something to me about that night’s dinner special. The water in the basin and the lunch on the tray were growing cold, and I was growing impatient. I started to raise my one good arm to silence everyone, and almost blurted out, “Could ONLY one person at a time wait on me?!?!” But, thankfully, before I did, my brain cells somehow reconnected.

Am I insane?

Two days earlier I was writhing around in pain on my living room floor, unable to figure out if I was going to live or die or just start growing mold before being swept away in one gigantic fumigation of the premises that was becoming sadly neglected due to my compromised health and well-being.

Now I’m here…in a roomful of people trying to help me, trying to come to my rescue and my aid, while they themselves show up to work in the middle of a pandemic that has the entire world on edge. They’ve given me fresh clothes, fresh sheets, cute ass slipper socks, some sustenance, a shiny new walker, a menu and a new toothbrush. And I keep acting like a 3 year old who has lost her favorite crayon.

REGROUP!!!

I listened to the nice PT therapist and the Food Services guy. Then I settled into eating lunch. Then it was time to wash my face and, literally and figuratively, take a good long look in the mirror.

Yes, this ordeal was hard.

Yes, being tossed around like a ragdoll by total strangers was humiliating.

Yes, I hated the hospital and how they poked and prodded and woke you at 4 am for no good reason whatsoever.

But that was no reason to be a total jerk about any of it. These good people didn’t deserve that. No, they deserved a lot more than just “not that.” They deserved a pat on the back for being on the front lines during a scary, horrible, unparalleled in modern times, health crisis.

They did not deserve my frowny faces, my snark, my foul mood stinking up the somewhat air conditioned room. No, they did not deserve any of that. I did not have any justification to behave this way and they did not deserve to be on the receiving end of my upset about my series of unfortunate events that they had nothing to do with.

I remembered my gratitude lists. The ones I try to make every day and have made a central part of GPYB, the program that I created. I’ve been doing gratitude for 30 years and, suddenly, I just forgot about it in the misery of the past few months. Pain took over my body and some demon took over my brain. It was time to exorcise the demon and get back to normal. Normal = grateful. 

After lunch and washing, I actually took time to relax, to breathe deeply, to do what we call in the program – making peace with the peace. It was quiet in the hospital. People were taking care of me…good people, nice people, hard-working, putting-themselves-at-risk-to-care-for-others people, front line – very NECESSARY – medical personnel. I had been working myself into the ground and I was getting sicker and sicker. I thought about the books I still want to write, the work I still want to do.  My work is not done. I lost track of that. Totally lost track of that. Dammit.

When the afternoon shift came in, my CNA was a young, handsome Latino named Luis. As he wiped off the morning CNA’s name from my white board, he turned and said, “I heard you want to go home, mama.”  I thought that was funny since that was so (literally) five minutes ago.

  Luis, haven’t you heard the news? I’m a-staying!

I didn’t answer, and he turned around and said, “I looked at your chart and if you keep going like this, mama, you are going to DIE!”  He really emphasized the word DIE.  Others had said it, but no one seemed to really mean it like Luis did. He then jetted around the room, changing the pillows that propped up my legs, cleaning off my bedside table, folding my blankets and chatting away happily as he did all this.  I wanted to wrap him up and take him home with me.

I saw a lot of Luis on that shift and the following day. I relaxed into submission and enjoyed – okay, not enjoyed, but tolerated – everything but the 4 am vital signs (is that REALLY necessary?)

Going Home Going Home Going Home

Two days later the doctor announced that if I promised to go home and not do anything, including mental work (because they wanted me to rest my brain as well as my body and get re-energized and recharged), they would agree to discharge me. Ah.  Just as I was getting used to the place. But I did just that. As hard as it was, I went home and did a whole lot of nothing.

The recovery from the pelvic fracture has been slow and painful. On top of it, just as I was beginning to manage the stairs again, I slipped on the wet kitchen floor and fractured my knee.

Yes, 2020 has been a helluva good time. 

But I wanted to take time today to thank the medical personnel who are on the front lines, fighting for us every day. They are exhausted, they are overwhelmed by this health crisis, but they keep doing their jobs.

I have to thank them for the perspective shift that I so badly needed. Sometimes you just can’t talk to me. I’m glad they took the time to try to get through. I really needed the message to slow the hell down and stop playing with my life.  This mama doesn’t want to DIE.  Not yet. There are still things to be done, books to write, people to help. GPYB is an important program, helping  people heal their broken hearts, clear the wreckage of the past and move onto healthy, happy lives.

Thank you for reminding me. My work here is not yet done. 

On this Thanksgiving, of a very strange year, I want to thank all the medical staff who work all over the world, but especially the nurses and CNAs who are right there in the thick of patient care – helping us to get well – even when we are being our own worst enemies. 

Gratitude is an Action

My actions to show my gratitude to the overworked medical personnel around the globe are these:

I don’t travel or do unnecessary public excursions, I wear a mask, I wash my hands, I don’t touch my face, I am back on my Lupus meds, and I get rest, eat right and take my vitamins and supplements. And I’m not whining. About anything.  

It’s the least I can do to keep from spreading this virus…this is so needed at a time when so many are doing so much for so many.

And, you know what? This way is much, much better than pretending I’m SuperMama who doesn’t need to do all those things. Maybe I can stay out of the hospital and they can use the bed for someone who really needs it. The virus is no joke. We all need to be safe. We all need to care about the front line workers. We all need to do our part. We can all do this. Together. Now. Today. 

With eternal gratitude.      ~ Susan J. Elliott 11/26/2020                                                       

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