Saturday, November 27, 2010

I Set a Record

I set a record this time. In and out of the hospital in 30 hours. My fourth cardiac surgery of the year was deemed successful (actually at the time, the other three were as well!), and I'm home and healing. Even the pain is manageable, although I'm more than a little concerned about the assault my brain cells have been under with all the anesthetic that's been coursing through my bruised and banged up body this past year :(

I know I shared in previous posts (during my three previous prolonged stays)that I was, and continue to be deeply grateful for the kindness and quality of care I receive at the UHN (University Health Network), but it warrants repeating. Despite the ease of finding a conversation that laments, or berates, our troubled and overburdened health care system - admittedly, I've even instigated many a few - it is astonishing to witness, from the inside, the strengths and fragility of our systematized medicine. And despite the obvious (lack of funding, lack of beds, long wait times....), this system operates by the blood, sweat and tears of individuals who are, for the most part, devoted to caring for those of us who need them. This is a shout out for the doctors.

Over the past number of years I've been truly blessed to call Dr. Yoav Brill and his lovely wife, good friends. Through their close friendship, I've come to learn the sacrifices great doctors make for their patients. Great doctors work in the same limited system we find ourselves struggling in, they fight battles for OR time, funding, beds, and research, they advocate for patients, and occasionally even get some quality time with family. When patients consistently identify their doctor as kind, and compassionate, as well as skilled, you know you've got a gem. If you need a OBGYN, see Dr. Brill.

And if you need a cardiac surgeon, ask for Dr. R.J. Cusimano. Similar to Dr. Brill, comments from patients regarding Dr. Cusimano are filled with such praiseworthy distinctions as, 'kind', 'brilliant', and 'an excellent bedside manner'. When I read some of the stories and comments on RateMD', it illuminated for me the pressure and stress under which these men function everyday, in order to care for us. I am not unaware that my little defibrillator problems, although huge to me (and the functioning of my heart!), are trivial compared to 98% of the surgeries R.J. does every day; yet, the point is, he treated me with the same concern, sincerity and kindness that he would a patient undergoing open heart surgery.

The kindnesses that doctors like Yoav and R.J. share are really profound because they are most often exchanged during times of desperate anxiety, and emotional trauma. Their kindness cradles us, and dignifies us. They really deserve some dakbands.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gratitude for 1000 Gifts

I had no plans to write another blog post this evening. I made up my mind that I was too tired - exhausted really. The 5:30 am alarm, leaving the house by 6:00 am, driving to Toronto to endure an entire morning of pre-admission tests for my impending fourth cardiac surgery of the year, next Tuesday, wiped me out. I decided to spend the evening in front of the television watching a movie that we intended to watch last night (but worked on a grant proposal until 11:00 pm instead!). While waiting for my husband to wake up from his pre-bedtime nap (he's putting our son to bed), I thought I'd catch up on some blogs I enjoy. So much for the movie......

Ann Voskamp writes a blog called A Holy Experience. Reading her writing is like drinking in peace, entering sacred space and feeling at home, like you never want to leave. Admittedly, I don't follow her blog often enough, or I'd have written about her book before now. One Thousand Gifts: Dare to live fully right where you are, is a book that chronicles her writing of a list of one thousand gifts. Not gifts she wants, but gifts she already has. Everyday gratitude. She calls them daily graces. I like that. Here is her blogpost about the beginning of her journey to recognize all the gifts God has placed in her life, her heart and soul. Some gifts from her list: “… the smell of the florist’s… the sound of kernels of corn streaming, tinkling…. leaves floating in puddles…”

In the same post I found this wonderful quote from John Milton, “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”

I realized, reading her post, and Milton's quote, that dakbands are those epiphanies. Moments of kindness (transcendent awe), that change forever how we live in the world. I want people to experience those moments, that new way of being in the world. I want people to create those moments, not wait to stumble upon them. At the end of Ann's post she invites the reader to begin their own list. I am accepting her challenge and will share my list here, and on our facebook page. Choosing to recognize the simplest moments, as gifts, will inspire even more kindness in the world - join me.

#1 filling my house with the exotic smell of indian spices as I try to produce equally exotic tastes

#2 drinking homemade ginger/cinnamon tea

#3 my husband putting the four year old to bed, while I write

#4 curling up in front of the fire to watch that movie.....

Friday, November 12, 2010

Who Knew!

Tomorrow is World Kindness Day. Who knew? Not me, that's for sure.
At least I learned about it before, instead of after.

World Kindness Day was initiated by the World Kindness Movement, an organization I promptly applied to join on behalf of Deliberate Acts of Kindness. This is a description from their website:

The idea behind the World Kindness Movement (WKM) crystallised at a conference in Tokyo in 1997 when the Small Kindness Movement of Japan brought together like-minded kindness movements from around the world. The WKM was officially launched in Singapore on 18 November 2000 at the 3rd WKM Conference. The mission of the WKM is to inspire individuals towards greater kindness and to connect nations to create a kinder world.

If you have a moment check out some of the great events that are taking place around the world:

In the U.K......

In Singapore....

Now, what can dakbands do help celebrate World Kindness Day?
Anyone who leaves a comment, shares a dak, or makes a suggestion, here or on our facebook page, will receive a free set of dakbands - send me an email with your address after you post and together we'll celebrate World Kindness day.

Here is a kindness video to inspire us, from Humanity Healing International