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When Two Strangers Surprised Me With a Gift While I Was in the Hospital

On January 20th, 2014 I started having low blood pressure seizures and fainting every time I sat up. On January 16th I went for a run. On January 20th I was sick, at least, that’s how I saw it. On January 20th I became bedridden with what I later realized was postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). Looking back, I experienced mild to moderate symptoms my whole life but didn’t consider myself sick until 2014. I was living my life as an average 20-year-old university student when my life suddenly came crashing down around me. Everything that resembled my old life – my school, my apartment, my job, my scholarship, my dreams, my hobbies, my abilities – all came crashing down around me. Nothing mattered but getting my health back and getting a name for the thief who stole my life.

In March 2014 I was admitted to the hospital because I stopped breathing after I tried a new neuropathic pain medication. I was admitted for a month in which I received an accurate diagnosis of POTS. That specific hospital stay was the most memorable of all because it ended up causing unwarranted flashbacks for a year. My medical PTSD began when the doctors tried me on a new heart medication, only for it to cause two seizures a day. I only took this medication once, yet it continued to cause two seizures a day for a week later, until they increased my anti-seizure medication (I was put on it in the beginning of the hospital stay for neuropathic pain).

What was traumatizing though, however, is that they didn’t believe I was having seizures, that somehow I was actually experiencing anxiety. At the time I had never experienced anxiety in my life and I was baffled by the misdiagnoses. More than that, though, I became traumatized from having two seizures a day while having doctors minimize my pain, dismiss it, temporarily refuse POTS treatment and send me to the geriatrics ward where there were no windows and I was in a room with a man calling his wife’s name all day and night long. Yes, the geriatrics ward was in the basement, and I managed to land myself in there because of medical ignorance and malpractice.

Right before they sent me to the geriatrics ward I was in the cardiac ward for a week. The seizures had just started and I was beginning to develop what the doctors inaccurately diagnosed in the first place: anxiety. The desperation, fear and isolation was something I could never adequately describe.

One morning I was able to sit up at the edge of my bed to eat and two young women walked into my room. At first, I thought they had the wrong room because I didn’t have many visitors. They pulled out a rose and said, “This is for you.” I was shocked – all I could say was “wow, thank you,” but these women will never fully understand how much their random act of kindness meant to me. The note on the card read: “You’ll get through this, stay smiling.” I later overheard one of the women talking to some of the nurses explaining how her grandpa was in the cardiac ward earlier that year and that she wanted to give back.

rose with a card attached saying "get well soon! you got this, keep on smiling"

Throughout that next month I would catch myself randomly reflecting on the act of kindness of these two women. I doubt it was cheap to buy a single rose for every single person in the cardiac ward, or easy to hand-write all of those notes. I didn’t know these women but I remember thinking of how these women chose to come from “the outside world” into my world to bless me. I felt so isolated and detached from the “real world” and remember looking outside the window at cars driving by thinking, “They don’t know I’m in here, they don’t think about the people in here – how someone just lost a loved one, how someone else just got a fatal prognosis, they’re just driving by in their own little world and me in mine and they don’t collide,” but for a moment that March morning, they did.

I still have the card.

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