Lying faced down with my head through a padded hole and my arms strapped at my side, I waited for my medical procedure to start. I could tell my anxiety was rising because the beats on my heart monitor seemed to change. I closed my eyes an took a few deep breaths as the local anesthesia was injected into my spine. I winced and that's when I felt a stranger's hand on top of mine.
Normally I don't like to be touched. I'm not particularly affectionate, even with people I know well. So, I slid my hand free and held on to the table.
In went the second injection. I couldn't help letting out a small Yelp. Seconds later, that hand from a man I couldn't see, cradled my hand again. This time, he did so firmly and ran his a finger over the back on my hand. His other hand, landed on top of my back and began rubbing.
In went the third injection and a tear trickled out. For once my hand wasn't limp in his. I held on and allowed him to comfort me. That stranger could feel my pain and whenever he did his gestures would let me know he was there for me and it would be okay.
In less than a half an hour my procedure was over, I sat up on the table looking for the man with the warm hand and the wedding ring. I wanted to see the person so was my lifeline, my connection to peace. Unfortunately, my nurse told me he had left; he was on to the next patient.
He, whoever he was, wasn't just another nurse to me. He was kinder, more patient and more attentive than most. I thought he should know that but I had no way to tell him. So, when I wheeled into the recovery room with the nurses who'd become my friends after nine procedures on my upper and lower spine to numb the pain that made it difficult to walk or lift things, I showed them the kindness that was extended to me. I was in pain but I tried not be grumpy. I talked, I laughed, I smiled, and I walked arm in arm with them to prove I could be released. I tried to be like my mystery nurse.
When I left the hospital, for once in a long time, I felt I'd experienced a bedside manner that's necessary to get patients through the trauma of illness and procedures. Often though, I've been jostled around like just s number case to be dealt with until quitting. I've had a lot of experience dealing with medical professionals. I've been in and out of at least seven hospital in the last seventeen years. But this time, I felt like a person and not just another patient. Like my pain mattered; my needs mattered. I felt my survival matter that I made me fight harder to endure what I was going through.