My Thanks to You

Thank you Dignity Health. This expression of gratitude is long overdue. Back in 2017 my world went from vertical to horizontal.  For at least two months I was bed ridden without knowing how long it was going to take to get on my feet, and back to work.

Almost 10 years ago I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a very unkind bone marrow cancer. On March 27, 2017 around 1:00 a.m. I was rushed to Marian Regional Medical Center.  There was a gradual progression of neck pain that had occurred over a period of 4 months that culminated into deteriorated vertebrae in my neck, which prevented my neck from supporting my head.

My first few days at Marian my neck had strengthened enough to allow me to move about and maintain my hygiene.  However, after a week my condition deteriorated, and I was moved to Marian Extended care and at the same time radiation treatment had begun.  It was there that I noticed a clear environmental difference between Marian Regional Medical Center, and Marian Extended care; going from my own quiet room with state-of-the-art digital life sustaining technology to a small two-person room with a curtain partition. The only technology that each of us had was a small flat screen tv, which I used to drown out the noise emanating from every part of my roommate’s body!

I associated the contrast in care from the main hospital to Extended Care. I quickly discovered how mistaken I was about that distinction.  The pain that I experienced at the time was unbearable (in hospital speak – above pain level 10). Any attempt to move me was met with great resistance.  Enter Irma Celles, a nurse in Extended Care who took the time to understand a way to minimize movement and manage my pain.  She took precautions to guard me, by informing those who took custody of me (physical therapy, occupational therapy, and transportation) about how to move me– Irma was on it.

My wife Deborah (Deb) was a wreck throughout this ordeal, although she continued to show a brave face. It all changed after the transfer, where she just couldn’t bare seeing me in that condition. She had a breakdown. The Head nurse, Sharon Ryan brought some assurance and comfort about the care I would receive and demonstrated a professionalism and competency that could only satisfy my Deb.

At about this time I was beginning to experience some humbling, embarrassing, and undignified events that caused me great anguish. It caused me to consider the word “dignity”, which was nowhere near what I was experiencing while lying in that bed. But as the nurses came in to tend to my care, change my gown and my bedding, they did it in a way that didn’t make me feel less of a person.  Finally, I understood what was meant by Dignity Health care.

For the next month and a half, I lay in my hospital bed wondering if, and how I could express my appreciation to those whose care I was in. From the guys that transported me to and from radiation appointments; to the personnel who delivered the meals, pharmacists, nurses, doctors, and my latest team of care providers at Mission Hope. “Dignity” was the expression that was impressed upon me. Deb and I will be forever grateful.

I put together this image journal of as many of my care providers (my team), as I could capture so that those who visit this page are familiar with the faces that were in my corner at the most critical period of my life.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you Dignity Health

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