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5 Everyday Acts of Kindness I've Experienced From Medical Professionals

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In the current times of uncertainty in the UK surrounding the Brexit decision and how this will affect the NHS, it’s a good time to think about the acts of kindness done by medical staff and experienced by millions of us. As the NHS changes, so do so people’s perceptions of the service. Sometimes waiting times are long, and access to treatment can be difficult. Having said this, one fact still remains, in that we are incredibly lucky to have such a vast national health service, essentially provided for free at the time of treatment.

Below are the top five times I’ve experienced incredible kindness at the hands of our NHS staff.

1. When a worker told me she would hold onto my hope, until I was strong enough to hold onto it myself. Being in a very dark place and unable to believe things will change is very difficult. I wasn’t able to hope that anything would change. I wasn’t able to believe people when they told me I wouldn’t always feel as I did. When my worker told me she would hold onto my hope until I was strong enough to have it back, that didn’t only mean she would walk that path with me, but she fully believed I would take that hope back at some point too. I couldn’t hold onto my hope at that point, but she could, and she kept it safe until I was ready to take it back; that hope has never left my side since.

2. When a nurse brought me a toothbrush and toiletries after I’d spent the night throwing up and I had no belongings with me. Such a simple act, but being able to clean myself up and wash off the feelings of the night before certainly helped me face the rest of the day.

3. When a nurse decided to move me to a quieter room after we explained to her I was finding the sounds of the alarms and the activity on the ward difficult to cope with. Not only did this nurse listen to what I had to say, but she understood my difficulties too and didn’t question or judge me. Although I wasn’t expecting to be moved to a different room, it was very much appreciated as it made that particular admission much less triggering and stressful.

4. When I met a new specialist and he sat down with me, listened intently to the information I gave and didn’t judge. Having been turned away for five years for thoracic outlet syndrome, and being told numerous times nothing was wrong, I eventually somehow ended up with exactly the right surgeon. He didn’t simply turn me away because he couldn’t see anything obvious, he kept digging until he found the issue. Despite numerous previous reports stating there was no issue with my arm, he decided to listen to me (who knows my body the best!) and form an opinion not tainted by previous notes. Having him validate my pain, my five-year-long hell, was incredible. He saved my arm, and no doubt saved my life by taking away most of the chronic pain in that arm, all because he listened. He’s not the only specialist to have done this either, so to every single medical professional out there, thank you for listening to us.

5. Some of the conversations I’ve had with medical professionals have made me laugh for a long time afterwards, and I’m thankful for that. I much prefer looking back on fond memories of consultations rather than stressful ones. I’ve had discussions with medical professionals about robots, and how maybe in another dimensions robots rule the world and doctors are kept as pets (don’t ask!). We’ve talked about how fish possibly hold the key to a new generation of antibiotics after discussing antibiotic resistance, psychedelic-looking wall paints and a lot more random non-medical-related stuff. I even got a nurse to show me his Irish dancing (he accidentally kicked the bin across the room in the process through!). All these conversations are important because there’s no unnecessary hierarchy between professional and patient during these conversations. I am a human being just like a medical professional is, and having whacky conversations makes the tediousness of long-term medical care much less. Being able to connect with a medical professional certainly makes for a much easier working relationship.

To all the medical professionals who take the time to listen, help, investigate, dance, laugh, comfort and support: thank you. These acts of kindness, and normality, are so needed, and so very appreciated.

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Thinkstock photo via Wavebreakmedia Ltd.

Originally published: October 9, 2017
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