Simply Being Present
Okay, everyone in the world is my friend until they give me reason not to think so. Even strangers-if you’re alive and you’ve never done me (or my family) wrong, then you’re my friend. Simple as that.
However, I do have some special friends, as we all do. The friendship I’m writing about today is with Elaine and Roy and their 22 year old son, Adam.I first met this family when I was speaking at Clemson University, where Elaine is a fixture in the Clemson community as the head of the Academic Success Center. Elaine is a breast cancer survivor and that just adds to what a wonderful person she is. As you can expect, this family also lives and dies Clemson football!
A couple weeks ago, they made the trip to Durham, NC for the Clemson versus Duke match up. On their way into the stadium, they passed by the tailgate party being thrown by Elaine’s oncologist, who she continues to see to this day, even though she’s been cancer free for many years. They stopped by Dr. G’s tailgate bash, they ribbed each other about their different alliances (Dr. G is a Duke grad and pulls for his team as hard as Elaine and fam pull for the Tigers.)
Now, A.D.D. story, Elaine and Roy’s son, Adam is, like I said, 22 and a really, really nice guy. Over the last month or so, though, Adam has been dealing with seizures. A couple of these were grand mal seizures and required a trip to the hospital by ambulance.
After the Clemson/Duke game, Elaine, Roy and Adam were walking out of the stadium and back to their car when another seizure overtook Adam. As luck would have it, this all took place right next to Dr. G’s tailgate party site. An ambulance was called and Elaine rode with Adam to the hospital.
Now, here’s the REAL story: Remember Dr. G? Elaine’s oncologist? Not only was he present for Adam’s seizure and could administer immediate medical attention, but when the paramedics arrived, Dr. G rode with Roy to the hospital. And there he stayed, by Elaine and Roy’s side, until the situation was under control (Adam is fine, by the way.)
Dr. G is an oncologist. Not a neurologist. Not a GP. Not a ER doc. An oncologist. Of course, when a medical emergency happens, you want the most qualified person around, right? And if you’re gonna have a seizure, it’s a really good thing to do it in front of a doc, right? Yes and yes!
But, the biggest help of all? Dr. G simply being present. He did not have to go to the hospital, did not have to ride with Roy to the hospital, did not have to stay with Elaine and Roy and Adam through the process of admission and initial treatment. Yet, he did. That is compassion, true, but more than anything? It’s simple presence.
Remember Jennifer? Ya know, the volunteer who first told me, “I’m Here”? Her words meant she was present in my time of trauma and need. So was Dr. G.
Say what you will about the sad state of health care in America. I think that as long as there are health care pros like Dr. G, we’re going to find the foundation of health care is secure in it’s foundation of presence, compassion and kindness.