Pretty much everyone works for a living. Some enjoy their jobs, others don't and a few lucky people consider their work a calling, even a mission to which they are fully dedicated.
Undoubtedly the Oregon Health & Sciences University Hospital, where I stayed for a total of 12 days, isn't alone in the excellence of its patient care but it has been four decades since I last needed the services of a hospital so what do I know.
I'll tell you what I know now about OHSU: without exception, every person who helped me in all their various ways – and there were about two dozen of them – were smart, knowledgeable, experienced, friendly, compassionate and always made me feel that caring for me was the most important thing they were doing that day.
At a time when I was the most vulnerable I've ever been as an adult, every one of them made me feel safe. Safer than I have ever felt.
I'm not going to mention names because I will leave out too many and there is not one who doesn't deserve my thanks, respect and gratitude:
The surgeon and his team who told me the truth about my disease with kindness, understanding, hope and who held my hand when I wept.
Meal delivery man who told me not to order coffee from the menu but allow him to bring me the better-tasting coffee that was brewed on my floor. He did that every day.
Nurses and CNAs who somehow inspired me to walk more frequently and farther than I would have done on my own, and without my ever feeling coerced. They made it fun.
Those same RNs and CNAs who wiped my bottom when I couldn't do it myself and made me feel as okay about it as when they helped me in and out of bed.
The night nurses who somehow woke me for a pill without entirely waking me so I could sleep through the night.
My primary care physician who just dropped by one day for a personal visit.
Now that I'm home, there are my go-to nurse from the surgeon's team, the dietition and the medications nurse who are friendly, caring and patient with my phone calls, questions and worries.
I believe the people who choose these careers and professions are different from me and probably most other people. They are special in ways I do not know about.
It is one thing to care for a loved one, as I did with my mother during the last months of her life, and quite another to not only show, but feel the same commitment to the strangers who arrive sick and frightened every day at the hospital or other medical facility where you work.
All these helpers never once faltered in their kindness and concern. They were not pretending. It is as though they have a goodness gene I certainly don't have. This is who they are and I cannot think of them without becoming weepy with gratitude.
Remember about four weeks ago when Autumn was writing blog posts in the first days following my surgery? She titled one of them “A Room with a View” and this is why: my room overlooked a small portion of the huge OHSU campus on a hill.