ring the bells

The Element of Surprise and Caring

One year ago this January, on a cold winter day, there was an unexpected knock on my daughter’s door. I was greeted by a stranger delivering flowers. Turns out they were for me.

Christmas was in the past and my Birthday was nine months away. Who on earth would send me flowers for no reason whatsoever?

Inside the brown florist wrapper were a dozen exquisite white tulips, from my friend, in Victoria. I had done nothing to warrant this gift, which made the beauty of the moment all the more wondrous.

Moreover, there was a second part to the surprise, which surprised me even more. My reaction.

White Tulips HBFor days I marvelled at the beauty of the tulips. They struck me as the most beautiful tulips I had ever seen. They lit up my life in the most extraordinary ways. I had more energy, saw beauty everywhere, minded the cold less and had unadulterated waves of joy. I felt lucky, blessed and grateful.

The power of kindness is evident over and over again from our friends, family and strangers. I swear those dozen white tulips, boosted my immune system.

Going a step further, however, I read an article in the New York Times, this morning, on a number of studies, showing the power of caring physicians to improve health outcomes. This research, including Stanford University, corroborates my direct experience while going through cancer treatment.

My medical team are brilliant physicians and specialists. Furthermore, they are caring. They provided me with almost immediate access to them, should I think I needed it. They did extra research on my behalf, to help with my decision making; their interest in my family and grandchildren was an unexpected surprise; there was always enough time for one more question. Never rushed. My opinions were respected and they generously offered both humour and personal anecdotes, along with all the tests.

I am convinced that their personal interest and caring made my treatment more effective and certainly less stressful. I believe it still.

The authors of the NYTimes article concludeWe often think the only parts of medical care that really matter are the “active” ingredients of medicine: the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment. But focusing only on these ingredients leaves important components of care underappreciated and underutilized. To really help people flourish, health care works better when it includes caring.”

I believe that this kind of caring  is essential and particularly important for anyone with a chronic condition. If that is you and you don’t have it, ask others for recommendations. Turn over every stone to find it. It can change everything.

And even beyond the medical, don’t you all notice how life affirming it is to work with people who care. Take my webmaster, as an example. Thanks to Margaret Rode, I do not live in fear of all that can go wrong. Her steady hand, sharp mind and kindness allow me to be confident that any mistake I make can be fixed. And even better we have a lovely supportive friendship. All of her clients feel that way. Once caring is involved it is no longer just a transaction, it is a relationship.

We do better in all parts of our life when we are in the circle of giving, receiving and caring relationships. They are worth looking for and cultivating.

List of suggested articles this week:

Can a Caring Doctor Make Treatments More Effective NYTimes

We Will All Leave a Legacy – whether we like it or not Globe and Mail

When Happens When Your Doctor Blames You Washington Post

Note 1: Thank you taking the time to read these posts. Sending my best wishes and see you next week. Trudy

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