Many years ago I was taught a lesson in perspective by a patient sharing a hospital room with my friend. The men were on a cardiac telemetry unit in a semi-private room with a curtain separating their beds.
My friend was in the bed by the window connected to a cardiac monitor, to defibrillator pads for the code cart parked at his bedside, to Flowtron boots and an IV. It looked pretty scary if you didn’t know his story, but the truth is he was fine at the time. All that equipment was precautionary while he waited to have the faulty wires on his implanted device replaced.
The man on the other side of the curtain was a quadriplegic. He had to call out for his nurse to wipe his nose, his butt, and to be fed. I gathered this was not a new injury but a hospital stay for a dizzy spell. I wondered how he found the strength and will to go on.
One evening the paralyzed man had a group of visitors in the room. They laughed, talked, and joked for quite a while. And then I heard the whispers.
“How ya doin’?” a visitor asked.
“I’m good” the paralyzed man said. “But I feel sorry for the other guy – did you see how many things he’s connected to? He must be really sick. We’re so lucky to have our health.”