Earlier this summer, I underwent elective surgery following a bout of diverticulitis. Why one would undergo elective surgery following a bout of diverticulitis is a story for another time, but one of the many epiphanies I had during this experience was just how huge the little things can mean in the time of need.
I’m a control freak. I’m also very self-reliant. So, when I found myself in a position where I had to let go of control, to rely on others to take care of me before, during and after surgery, I had to have a little talk with myself. Although I was moderately successful in that endeavor, I admit that for a control freak like me, letting go means letting go of everything—turning yourself over to even the worst possible outcome. Then, the anesthesia mask comes over face, and fade to black.
A very few hours later, I opened my eyes and found myself in a different place, a recovery room. I was disoriented and foggy, but did have the presence of mind to do a quick self-check: Am I in pain? How’s my heart rate? Blood pressure? Am I breathing on my own? Am I hooked to anything that might indicate a problem? Thankfully, no to all these. Still, I was very discombobulated. I couldn’t focus well, but noticed a figure beside me. As she put her hand on my arm, her calming voice told me I came through surgery well, that everything was going to be okay. And then, in what might seem like an odd thing to say to a 54-year old man, she asked, “Would you like a warm blanket?”, to which I replied without a moment’s thought, “Yes! Yes, I would!” I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of peace I experienced being tucked in with a warm blankie. The self-reliant control freak temporarily left behind, the scared child in me embraced the warm blanket and quickly drifted off to the Land of Nod, comfortable in the knowledge that I was safe and everything was going to be okay.
What does this have to do with anything? Well, I had a need taken care of that I didn’t even know I had, but the hospital folks knew. They helped separate me from the fear and anxiety of post-surgery with a warm blanket—a warm blanket. I think that is not only forward-thinking, but really a form of hospitality, and this simple offering and the feeling it caused is something I’ll be trying to replicate in my own practice. You may not get a warm blankie from me, but I will be figuring out how to give you the warm fuzzies in a dental chair!