Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Kindness of Strangers/Heidi Mills

It goes without saying, although I have said it a lot, how much we appreciate the kindness of our friends and acquaintances.   Flowers, baskets, books, goodies for the hotel room, kind words on the blog, texts, Facebook, emails.  We are staying in this hotel because a friend and neighbor gave us a zillion Hilton Honors points.  And THIS IS the place to recover from brain surgery, believe me.  Thanks to friends at the university, last night we were given the royal treatment of awesome restaurant food brought to our hotel – delivery charge and gratuity included. 

But I am also struck by the kindness of strangers.  Our doctors and nurses, for example, have been so much more than professionally kind.  Most of the medical professionals we have encountered in Baltimore have been so genuinely personable and so real.  Our doctor, Jon Weingart, was in the hospital on our last day.  He didn’t come in for early rounds, and so we were afraid we might miss him.  We really didn’t want to leave until we got his OK.  It was scary to leave after only two days.  The incision, the medications, it was a little overwhelming.  But he came and reassured and did a lot to assuage our fears.   There was a tiny awkward moment at the end when he was leaving and Heidi needed his touch.  You know what a hugger she is.  She certainly couldn’t get quickly out of bed and go to him.  So she stretched out her hand toward him.  He was carrying stuff.  He was already backing out of the room.  He could have stepped out.  But he stopped.  He came forward and looked into her eyes and they held hands for a second or two.  There was a palpable sense of relief and calm that passed from him to her in that moment.  She told me about it.  There was a connection that she needed.

There have been small kindnesses everywhere.  The first night we got to the hotel, after a pretty spooky ride from the hospital, Heidi was settled into the room.  I had to schlep all of our bags and equipment to the 18th floor.  There was a bellman, Brendon, big guy, dreads, wide smile (a kid really) who was doing his thing with the luggage cart with me.  I told him the story in brief.  When we got to the room and he saw Heidi – still unshowered and puffy – only two days after surgery - he was Godblessing her all over the place.  You look fantastic…  God is Great…  Everything is gonna work out, you’ll see…”  Just what the doctor ordered.

The guy who delivered our food from the restaurant last night must have known something about our story, because he looked me in the eye and wished us every good thing.  In the space of our 30-second encounter, he just exuded kindness. 

We bought a gift certificate for our surgeon from a fancy shmancy place here in Baltimore.  The folks at the restaurant had it delivered to our hotel for us.  The driver – his name was Guy – shook my hand and clapped me on the back and told me the missus was going to be just fine.

When we walked into this hotel the night before Heidi had surgery and were just checking it out to see if we wanted to stay here, the guy at the front desk, Mike, took a sincere interest in us.  He was all about getting us a super low rate, making sure we had a little fridge up in the room, making sure that we had everything we needed.  Heidi still had metal tabs all over her face for surgery the next morning.  We probably looked like a couple of fraidy-cats.  He took our information and, even though he won’t be working here at all during our stay, we don’t even have a way to say thanks, he left a note at the desk that we be upgraded to a suite – no extra charge.

It seems everywhere we go, and we haven’t been far, people have gone out of there way to be extra nice, putting forth that extra bit of effort to make Heidi comfortable, to tell her how good she looks, how her smile lights up the place.  We have learned a lot about how to treat other people in similar situations.  These are life lessons, things that we will not forget.

Heidi is still snoozing peacefully.  Yesterday wasn’t fantastic.  She felt woozy, a little bit sore.  I think that there was a bit of a honeymoon right after getting released from the hospital.  I don’t know if she was still relatively pain free from all of the lingering anesthesia or what, but the last couple of days have been more uncomfortable.  But she is sleeping great, reading a little, getting on the internet, watching a little tube.  In some ways it is a little boring, but that is probably just what the doctor ordered as well. 

I want to thank you for reading this crazy travel log/memoir/doctor’s report.  You can tell if you look at the little graph at the top that there was pretty big increase in people stopping by the blog recently.  Out of the hundreds of posts I have written, this adventure with Heidi has been by far the most widely read.  Usually I get excited if more than one person leaves a comment.  Heck, lately I am lucky to get any comments.  I’ll be sure to put Heidi’s name in the title when I write more about this and her.  If it doesn’t have her name, it will be more of my usual rambling: memoirs, fiction, lyrics, social commentary, stories about school, family, etc. 

Before I sign off, I wanted to mention that more than one person has said that reading some of this has made them tear up.  A writer loves to hear that, right?  It has always been a goal to write so that someone laughs out loud, thinks deeply about something, reconsiders an idea, or cries.  I know that says more about how you feel about Heidi than these words.  But still…  thanks for reading.  And thanks for caring about my dear one. 


Briana said...

Tim, you and Heidi are in our thoughts (and have been all along). I'm now at the SC Dept of Ed and you have many friends here who have been giving me updates (when I wasn't smart enough to think to check your blog). Morgan and our whole family send you healing thoughts and are thinking of you each day with hope.


Alan Wieder said...

Joanie said to add us to the tear list but that has been the case each time. Tim and Heidi, the kindness you have both received is directly connected to the kindness, good deeds, good spirit, and wonderful actions that both of you put out -- always and ever.

Southern State of Mine said...

Your words have keep us so close to Heidi during this journey to good health. Thank you for sharing your intimate, precious words. We continue to lift you both up in prayer. Cathy

Nic said...

I mean, I know I am particularly emotional at the moment; stupid soaps make me cry; stupid X Factor made me cry; stupid adverts make me cry... But I've needed a whole box of Kleenex reading about all this, I tell you. Tell Heidi she has created a very soggy creature hundreds of miles away. ;)

Dr. Brown said...

Thinking about you both! Your writing has made me cry, but also feel reassured that so many wonderful people are watching over Heidi.

Anonymous said...

The tears are partly about Heidi, but truly your writing is gifted. The way you describe the events and your ability to notice the details that add to story make me feel like I am there. I can picture it all. Love to you and Heidi and of course Devin and Colin. I have been thinking about them during their exams. Praying for them to be able to concentrate and study.

Mrs. Randolph said...

Tim and Heidi, our family will keep you in our prayers! I just found out about this journey you have been going through and although it has to be crazy your strength and love with pull you graciously just as you handle everything. Although I was just one of many interns that have cycled through your lives please know that you both are so special to me...you feel like family and when I even hear mention of your names I get that warm, comfortable feeling of home. I love you both and admire that even in this difficult moment you are tackling it as learners--you two are so inspiring! -Ms. V. :)

bluebirdwoman said...

As they say, "what goes around, comes around." I wonder who "they" are. Anyway, there is no doubt that the good karma you have both been putting out into the world for years is coming back to you ten fold. I'm sure the ups and downs of recovery are to be expected, but sometimes difficult. Thanks for the blog!

Cathy said...

Heidi Lou and Tim,
Ricky and I have been thinking of you and praying for you constantly! We are so thrilled to hear of the progress you are making Heidi and the support and love you are both giving and receving. Having gone through brain surgery with my dad I know how important all that is! We plan to go to Downtown Sunday and it will be our Thanksgiving to God Sunday for you, our dear friends! Much love and many blessings dear ones!! LYMI to the moon and back!! Cathy and Ricky