The Kindness of Strangers

A “heart attack” allowed me to experience the kindness of strangers last week.

Last Thursday morning, I had a small pain in my right shoulder which I attributed to sleeping in the wrong position. As I was getting ready to leave at 6:30 am, the pain became much more intense. As I was walking down the hall in our condo building to the elevator, a direct message came out of nowhere telling me to turn around and not go to the conference because of the health issue that I was experiencing.  I dismissed heeding the wise, intuitive message and told myself that the two Ibuprofen pills would take care of the pain in my neck and shoulder during my hour and a half drive to the conference that I would be attending.

Jeff Deckman had invited me to attend a conference on conscious leadership. Previously I have been a keynote speaker at Jeff’s leadership conferences. He is also a good friend. I asked Jeff if he would step out of the conference room with me and told him that something was going on with me physically, and I had pressure in the middle of my chest. When it was time for me to introduce myself, I told the other attendees that I was sorry but I needed to leave since I had pressure in the middle of my chest, something that I had never experienced before and I had no idea what it was.

When I got to the main lobby I was wondering if I should drive home. I asked Ann Marie, the manager of the Alton Jones Whispering Pines Conference Center where the closest hospital was. She asked me to tell her what was happening. After I conveyed to her what I was feeling, she told me to sit down, I was not leaving. She was going to call an ambulance.  She took my car keys and told me that she would contact my wife to tell her that I was going to an emergency room via ambulance.


Wrong Hospital Exit

As the ambulance doors opened and the personnel were ready to move me out, my wife called and asked what exit she should take to get to the hospital. I asked the ambulance people and they said Exit 18. When my wife took Exit 18, she was in a maze of small streets with businesses and houses. After numerous failed attempts to reach the hospital, she saw a police car, got out and looked into the police car window. No one was there. Just as she started to leave, she saw the policeman coming out of a coffee shop. She explained that her husband had been taken by ambulance to the hospital, and being out of state and having no sense of direction, she had no idea where to go. The policeman gave her a private escort to the hospital, showed her where to park and how to get into the emergency room. He didn’t have to do that but he did out of kindness.

I was in the emergency room all day as they did all sorts of tests and blood work, all of which came back negative for a heart attack. They admitted me to a hospital room because they wanted to do a stress test in the morning.  My wife, sitting beside my bed, became my personal secretory, since she was constantly sending, and responding to, texts from my son, daughter, Jeff and Ann-Marie.


Where Is He?

When they came to take me away for the stress test, my wife asked the nurse how long this would take, her answer was an hour. More than three hours later, I was still not back.The hospital is so big that a number of people who work there didn’t know where the Nuclear Medicine Department was. There different people helped her find Nuclear Medicine. I heard her voice in the hall,  called her name and we reconnected.


Follow Me

After being discharged, we were trying to find the garage where my wife had left her car. The hospital corridors were a maze. I saw a hospital person who was pushing a large cart filled with medical supplies and asked if he could give us directions for how to get out. He pushed the cart over to the side of the wall and told to us follow him.  He didn’t have to physically walk us to the garage, but he did so out of the kindness of his heart.


Car Delivery

Since my car was still parked at the conference center, Jeff contacted a client of his who owns a car transport company to have my car brought back to Cambridge. Even though I protested, my car was delivered at no charge. All examples of these acts came from the kindness of strangers.


Lessons Learned:


  • Due to my being hooked up to monitors, the talking of the night nurses and noises from other patents’ rooms, I found that “sleeping” in a hospital at night is an oxymoron.


  • A positive out of this “negative” hospital experience was that I literally have a good heart and that my cardiovascular system is OK.


  • I experienced what I talk about which is that under stress, anxiety and fear, our thinking shrinks, which is exactly what needs to be avoided during a crisis. I “should have” centered my awareness on my authentic self so I could have tapped into my inner wisdom which would have been a touchstone for my making wise decisions.


  • The hospital experience provided me another example of how kindness transcends political positions. No one asked us at the hospital if we were politically for or against Trump. I was treated with respect by the doctors and nurses and I responded back with gratitude for their professional help. A relationship bridge of mutual respect was established which will be the topic of the next blog series starting next week.


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