Lessons from a “First”

Within a few months of turning Medicare age, I experienced a first. I was admitted to a hospital. A week later, at 1:00 in the morning, I returned home.

Every opportunity in life is a chance to listen, pay attention and grow. There was a lot of growing going on this past week, plus the time ahead of that before an ambulance took me in. 

  1. Gratitude. And appreciation. For everything. I had the benefits of great care from the tireless efforts of folks with roles ranging from doctor to custodial crew, and everything in between. I tried to thank each visitor (and they came at all hours with IVs, blood tests, therapies, and so on) for their efforts. I asked that each take care of themselves. Several commented on how rarely they hear “thank you,” “take care,” etc. There is not a moment that we draw breath that is devoid of the opportunity to have gratitude for the moment and appreciation for every person you encounter.
  2. Listen to stories and all that comes with them.  I heard about career/profession decisions, faith, love and loss, kids…life. The insights helped connect me to those who worked hard on my behalf. There was humor. I will carry with me forever the story of the woman who said she was going to empty my multiple urinals. “We don’t want you to get your wee wee in the pee pee.” Her humor was disarming. I chuckled. “Hey, I have $30,000 in student loans where I learned to talk like that,” she said with a smile. Humor – as in “sense of” and “attitude” – is a possession to hold onto.
  3. Lung health. Inhale. Exhale. “Easy peazy, lemon squezzy,” as one young tech reminded me. How your lungs function is quite remarkable. Here are a few tips they shared with me about lung health and good habits that would be remiss if I didn’t share:
    • Sleep on your belly/chest. This helps empty the lungs of the “junk.” If you can’t sleep on your belly, sleep on your side. Don’t sleep on your back.
    • In through the nose, out through the mouth. Exhale for twice as long as you inhale. This habit helps to inflate the lungs. “Blow over the soup,” one respiratory tech reminded me as an example of how to breathe.
    • Pay attention to occasionally stretch out your arms while breathing to help open the lungs, clear the pathways and allow for what are truly, “cleansing breaths.”

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