Today's prompt; 'We love random acts of kindness. Write about a time that you benefited from the kindness of a stranger, or a time when you were the one extending a helping hand. How did you feel?'
There are many occasions where I've been a 'good samaritan'. Like that time I helped a pensioner cross the road safely, or when I didn't laugh too long as my brothers' new bike directed him face-first into a fence, or that time I let a tramp handing out charity stickers press said sticker onto my chest for 5 seconds longer than was socially/lawfully acceptable. But as I don’t want this post to run on for over 100 pages, I should shy away from talking about my own acts of self-less heroism and focus on an occasion where I benefited from someone else's kindness.
Although I've been showered with love and compassion from almost everyone around me since my diagnosis, one of the examples of kindness I cherish above most, comes from a complete stranger.
When I was around 26 and experiencing another yet stay in the worlds bleakest hotel, known as hospital, I was LOW. I was seriously ill, and my partner and I were in the midst of buying our dream home. I was useless to him, stuck in bed attached to a drip and leaving him to handle BIG 'couple-things' on his own. This house and the excitement of us finally living side by side was a glimmer of hope in what seemed like a downward spiral of bad-news.
He called me around midday to tell me we had lost out on the house.
I was inconsolable. Embarrassingly so. And I was alone.
Being alone can be dangerous, especially when your head, and body is filled with nothing but bad news and various unappetising cocktails of drugs. All I could do was think about the negative. I'd had every room in that house decorated to within an inch of its life (in my head). I’d foreseen where he would sit and watch TV and where I would sit and watch him watch TV like the love-struck fantasist I was. Suddenly all my plans were relegated to the bench and my hopes for our future seemed bleaker than that book 'Bleak house' which was about a bleak house or something.
Anyway, I was devastated and nothing anyone said seemed to help. I realise now it was just the final straw; I'd been feeling depressed for a long time and this having been taken away from me seemed like I'd lost the only piece of control I'd had left. I sobbed and sobbed. Each time the nurses pulled the curtain around me open I'd struggle up and pull it closed. I wanted to be alone in my misery and the other ladies in my ward, with a combined age of approximately 355845, offered little comfort or conversation. They didn't seem interested in the intricacies of Beyoncé's new single and I wasn't especially interested in shouting "NURSE" and soiling myself 5 times a day so we had little in common.
My main visitor was a male nurse, he walked in to give me a telling off for the consistent curtain-closing and was met by floods of tears. He asked if I was OK, I said no and he walked off. He had been panicked by a hysterical woman and that just made me angrier and more ashamed at my mortifying predicament. I raged internally about him most of the day after that, which didn't make me feel any better, but it had stopped me crying, which was good, as my eyes had become so dry that I was close to getting fresh tears shipped in from Gwyneth Paltrow's Oscar speech leftovers.
However, that night an unexpected and wonderful thing happened.
It was the middle of the night, I'd had no visitors, I was lonely and couldn't sleep, and YET AGAIN found my curtain being pulled back. This time though it was by an older nurse; she smiled and sat beside me, and told me that the male nurse who'd been in the ward earlier, said I'd been "having a bad day and could do with some looking after". I instantly felt awful for internally scolding him. I was also reluctant to go over everything again, but she took my hand, asked If wanted to talk about it, and looked so genuine and kind that I started to well up all over again. I relayed my sorry tale and she sympathised and sat with me for much MUCH longer than she needed to, told me that things always seem worse than they are when we are in hospital. She was right of course, and it's something I try to remember to this day.
I have felt hopeless since that day, and when that happens I try to think of that lovely nurse with the smothering bosom who had so much kindness in her eyes that her tears probably smelt like grannies apple-pie and kitten cuddles. But I digress. The compassion she showed me is something she probably shows every weeping stranger on daily basis. I felt embarrassed she had seen me that way for a little while then I realised feeling weak is necessary i order to appreciate feeling strong.
Offering comfort to someone is so incredibly easy, but can mean so so much to the recipient.
I'm off to slip into my best bra and buy a charity sticker from a tramp.
This post was written as part of WEGO Health's Activist Writers Monthly Challenge - #HAWMC