Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Bit of Holiday Cheer at the Hospital

Hospital is not the place many people want to be for Christmas or New Year's. But a little holiday greenery and some smiling faces can make it a cheerier place than you might suspect.

Lately, it almost feels as though I've become a full-time resident. Monday night, our Mended Hearts chapter had its annual Christmas party there, and it was great to see 36 fellow heart-surgery survivors and caretakers laughing and having a grand old time.

Today, I did my Mended Hearts rounds visiting those now facing their own heart surgeries, or just recovering from them. You could sense a more festive mood than normal. The decorations, including even a full-fledged Christmas tree in the cafeteria, helped set that mood.

I have been doing these visits now for more than two years, so I am getting to know some of the hospital personnel as though they were my work associates, or even my brothers or sisters. I regularly chat with one of the physical therapists who first got me out of bed and moving after my total knee replacement last April. And I have a nurse friend who welcomes me each time I am on her floor in the Heart Center and helps explain to patients what Mended Hearts seeks to do for them as a support group.

All the trappings of the season brought back memories of a Christmas at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond 17 years ago when my dear wife Allyne was bravely facing a surgery scarier to me than heart surgery -- the capping of a brain aneurysm that had triggered a stroke a few months earlier. I remember being in a very quiet but brightly decorated waiting area, where I opened a devotional book at random and found a reassuring thought to help me frame a prayer for my loved one. The surgery turned out to be a success, thank the Lord, and today my spouse has the best functioning memory in the whole family.

So to me, hospital is a place that is about hope and that often brings cheer, especially when the miracles are occurring close to Christmas Day.

                                                     © Robert G. Holland  2013

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