Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Unfortunately I was readmitted to the hospital last week due to complications with my new defibrillator. I am now recovering from an emergency surgery to replace the leads. Hopefully I'll be home and on my healing path to a full recovery today. As cliche as it sounds, I never would have imagined myself spending the better part of month in the hospital. Life is sometimes like a Belgian fog, it floats in silently, and without warning your orientation, your sense of direction and purpose are blanketed. Suddenly it is impossible to know where you are, or where you are going. I know from experience though that eventually it lifts and the landscape takes on a familiar, comforting compass point. I'm waiting for the fog to lift.

A cool, magical breeze blew in last night, diffusing some of that fog. A young man, Ellison, visited our room to entertain my room mate and I with magic tricks. He is an occupational therapist at Toronto Western Hospital by day, and in the evenings he volunteers his time as a magician. For twenty minutes he beguiled us and made us laugh. As the Mastercard commercials say, "Priceless".

Before he began Ellison asked each of us if we had ever performed magic. Dianne (another patient who was visiting with us at the time), immediately said "Yes". He asked her when. Without skipping a beat she replied, "When I gave birth to my three children". Again, "Priceless".

Wisely, Ellison also asked us (although slightly more tentatively after Dianne's response to his first question) what we liked most about magic. I replied, that I most loved the suspended reality, fantasy. Ellison explained that he most liked connecting with people and making them smile.

I gave him a package of dakbands. Perhaps the magic will travel.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Happiness is Relative

The British Medical Journal reported a study that suggests our happiness is directly impacted by the happiness levels of those around us. In fact, our happiness levels can be affected at three degrees of separation....the happiness of a friend of a friend can improve our own happiness! But really, anyone who understands the dakband concept already knew that. Kindness spreads happiness, and happiness improves health. A win win situation.

A few years ago I read a wonderful book, The Geography of Bliss. A must read. As you can see this is a well loved book. (My husband has pointed out - many times - that, at a certain point, the flags are no longer helpful :) After journeying around the world, exploring the most and least "happy" countries in the world, the author concludes, "There is no such thing as personal happiness. Happiness is one hundred percent relational."

Think about the impact of kindness in this light. Whenever we offer a dakband to an individual, we are directly impacting their health - and perhaps the health of their friends!

Interestingly another study in the British Medical Journal suggests that happiness can ward off heart disease. Now given my recent history this really got my attention. And I am 'happy' to report that although I have a serious heart condition complete with my own built in defibrillator, I have no sign of heart disease (in fact my surgeon said I have "beautiful arteries"). I would definitely attribute my heart health and recovery to the love and support that has been showered upon me through many, many acts of kindness.

For example, today, I received this incredible letter from our son's girlfriend - a truly happy soul - a hand written note and four small healing stones. It is impossible to under estimate the healing power of kindness.

I sincerely hope that you consider me a friend and thus can share, and benefit from my happiness.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Positive Heart Energy

I've known Carolin for many, many years, we went to massage therapy college together. Our friendship has endured the peaks and valleys of growing-up, of marriage, divorce, children, heartbreak, and personal discovery. She is a bright light in my life. She is generous, wise, independent, beautiful and kind. Above all Carolin gives voice to community. It is difficult to count how many community gardens she has personally created and fought for in the City of Toronto, or how many lives she has impacted through these gardens.

Last night she traveled across the city to visit me yet again (an hour trip each way!), and gave me yet another foot massage. This time, however, she brought a special gift. Positive heart energy. Carolin taped little laminated hearts ALL OVER my room.

I feel better already!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 8

Well, this is day 8. Yesterday I was told to expect to be here for the week, so I figure I better start focusing on the positive, and share some daily act of kindness that I am experiencing.

Yesterday was a doozy. First a good friend from the home church I attend came up to visit. While we were chatting, another good friend who I've blogged about here and here, Maryann, arrived with a picnic feast. She proceeded to prepare a to-die-for (some cardiac humor) spinach salad, served it up with salmon, blue cheese, and homemade rye bread. The three of us cozied up to my tray table and savoured every bite over the course of the afternoon. I wish now I had taken a picture to share. Maryann and Sheryl, listened attentively while I went through every page of the booklet I was given to learn about implantable cardioconverter-defibrillators - the device they are implanting at the end of the week. They shared my worries, fears and concern.

When my husband arrived Maryann ran out to a favourite local restaurant of ours, Sneaky Dee's and brought us back our favourite menu item, King's Crown Nachos. At the end of the evening she drove my husband home.

To top off it all off another friend arrived, Carolin (massage therapist and community gardener), and she gave me a foot massage (for an hour)!

Friendships are incredible expressions of kindness.

Monday, March 8, 2010

100th Post!!

Well, I'm still in hospital.....but there are some pretty cool ambulance drivers sporting dakbands now (they transported me from hospital to hospital).

“The best portions of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered acts,
Of kindness and love.”

—William Wordsworth
(1770-1850); poet

I like that these acts of kindness no longer have to be unremembered. That these acts of kindness, the best portions of a good man's life, can inspire each of us to the best portions of our lives, that we can celebrate the best in each other together.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Kindness of a Good Nurse

I won't bore you with all the gory details, but I was admitted to the hospital yesterday to have all the concerns with my heart taken care of. It has been a pretty scary, stressful couple of months, so although most people wouldn't be thrilled to be in hospital I'm actually relieved. Having said that doesn't make being here any more enjoyable though :) It is still a hospital, not a spa.

However, what does make being in the hospital - undergoing a battery of serious tests - bearable, is the care, compassion and kindness of nurses. I was admitted through the Emergency department, and when we arrived there was a waiting room full of people who had been there long before us. Their expressions were not exactly uplifting. As we settled in for the long wait, a nurse arrived towing a blood pressure cuff, notepad and friendliest attitude you can imagine. She worked her away around the room, taking temperatures, blood pressures, writing notes and talking to each person like they were the only person in the room.

I came prepared, since I might be here awhile, and quickly offered her a couple of bands and my sincere appreciation. It turns out she was the charge nurse. What an awesome display of leadership. I think my stay here is going to be just fine. I'll keep you posted.