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These People Are Extra Good At Kindness

, , , , , , , | Healthy | June 25, 2021

About a year ago, I decided to become a non-directed kidney donor. I live alone — except a five-month-old husky puppy — with all of my family in other states a good 2,000 miles away from where I’d just moved a year prior. As the surgery date started to approach, I needed to get things in order. I tend to be both very independent and overly optimistic about what I can get done on my own. Due to their own life difficulties, none of my family would be coming out to stay with me pre- or post-surgery. The following is a brief summary of the many wonderful ways I was reminded of just how wonderful people are.

My puppy: my puppy was a rescue I had found by the side of the road at the start of the health crisis. I’d just started going to the dog park with him when the surgery got scheduled. The surgery came up in conversation, and three different strangers volunteered to come to pick him up and bring him for walks and to the dog park. Another new friend with a small baby and a puppy of their own offered, without being asked, to take him for the entire hospital stay. 

Homecare: while I was recovering from surgery, at least a dozen different people stopped by to clean my home, take my dog out, bring me meals, and help me get up to exercise. Several people also heard that I was not eating because of how bad I felt and made it a point to either bring me the only things I could stomach (variations on dry breads) or sit on the phone with me and go through menus until they said something that sounded edible. 

School: I am a graduate student and did not fully appreciate the impact it would have on my semester, nor how much my classmates and professors would care. Every single professor continuously checked up on me and went out of their way to accommodate me as much as possible. One even dropped off special homemade soup at my home. Several classmates were kind and patient enough to review and reteach me whole units because I was too doped up on drugs to properly understand them the first time. They gave me rides to the store, took me out walking, and just sat patiently with me while I was miserable. 

Possibly the sweetest was in the hospital. The night after the surgery was the worst. The anesthesia was finally wearing off and they had to double my pain meds, but the oxygen monitor kept going off every time I started to fall asleep. Apparently, I breathe shallowly when asleep. It was so awful and it was really late at night or early in the morning and I just felt so miserable and alone. I definitely was not rational and was extremely emotional. I proceeded to start going down my friend list on my phone calling people just to see if anyone was up and could keep me company. Every person I called answered. Half of them just read Jane Austen to me until I calmed down or would just talk so I could hear a familiar voice. The last person I called stayed on with me until the doctor came back around and was able to change the meds and get me off the oxygen so I could sleep. 

With the exception of the people on the phone, none of these people had known me for more than a few months, and I’d only met most of them a handful of times. I’m doing great now, as is the donee. I’m doing so well, in fact, that it is easy to forget that the experience even happened — except when I look down at my scars, and then I get the chance to remember how a group of near-strangers took care of me like I was their sister, daughter, granddaughter, and friend. 

People really are remarkable.

This story is part of our end-of-year Feel Good roundup for 2021!

Read the next Feel Good 2021 story!

Read the Feel Good 2021 roundup!

“Ignore It Until It Goes Away” Doesn’t Work With Everything

, , , , | Healthy | June 17, 2021

I have mild chronic gastritis. I also have a slight deformation on my hip so I often feel pain in my lower back and hip. The pain I feel from those two conditions can be bad, but thankfully not often. I also have a high pain threshold because of them.

One day in late November, I started feeling discomfort in my stomach but I couldn’t really pinpoint where exactly. I disregarded it as just one of my two issues, so I started taking my usual medicine and kept an eye on my diet. The pain came and went for a full month. I didn’t really think about it since I was busy with a project and I had already bought a concert ticket. Project ended, concert attended, and the pain still lingered.

Finally, on New Year’s Eve, the pain was unbearable, so I told my sister who’s a doctor. She came by and did a quick check.

Sister: “Pack your bag, and I’ll call our parents to take you to the ER.”

It turned out that I had a swollen appendix. It was only hours away from rupturing. I ended up having to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks through a hospital window, with an IV drip and some stitches on my tummy.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a reminder to never ignore any pain you feel in your body.

You Got Grass Growing On Your Roof? Part 2

, , , , , | Healthy | June 15, 2021

My aunt is home alone while my uncle is at work. She decides to mow the lawn, gets distracted, and gets into an accident. She suffers multiple broken bones and a minor concussion but is able to crawl into the house, reach the telephone, and dial 911 to request an ambulance. She gets wheeled into the emergency room and the doctor enters.

Doctor: “Hello, [Aunt], can you tell me what happened?”

Aunt: “I was mowing the lawn and fell off the roof.”

Doctor: “Umm… I’m sorry, what was that?”

Aunt: “I was mowing the lawn, and I fell off the roof onto the driveway.”

Doctor: “How… Okay. What roof were you on?”

Aunt: “The house.”

Doctor: “Hmm. And what were you doing on the roof?”

Aunt: “Mowing the lawn.”

Doctor: “Okay, [Aunt]. I think we’ll start prepping for surgery now.”

My uncle makes it to the hospital while my aunt is in surgery, and the doctor comes out to update him.

Doctor: “[Aunt] is doing well. She has suffered a broken back, multiple broken ribs, a cracked pelvis, and a few broken bones in her legs. She also has a concussion. Fortunately, none of her internal organs seem to be damaged, and her spinal cord has not been damaged. She may have a permanent limp or similar mobility challenges, but I believe she will otherwise make a full recovery with enough time.”

Uncle: “Thank you.”

Doctor: “I do have to ask one thing, though. I’m not sure exactly what happened that caused these injuries. [Aunt] tried to explain, but I think she was confused because of the concussion. Do you have any idea what might have happened?”

Uncle: “What did she say?”

Doctor: “She said she… Well, she said she fell off the roof while mowing the lawn.”

Uncle: *To himself* “Oh, so that’s why the lawn mower was in the driveway.”

Doctor: “Umm, [Uncle]?”

Uncle: “Well, she’s not wrong. We built our house into the side of a hill. We dug out the front of the hill and built a frame to keep the hill from collapsing. Then we built a house within the frame. The top and the other sides of the hill weren’t touched except for clearing some trees, so there’s still grass growing over the hill. We use a riding lawn mower to mow the lawn, which includes the hill that we dug out. [Aunt] must have been mowing the hill — which is basically our roof — and got distracted or something broke on the lawn mower, and she drove off the edge of the hill. I’ll bring in a picture of our house tomorrow to give you a better idea.”

The next day, my uncle did bring in a picture of the house, and the doctor was finally able to understand what my aunt meant when she said she was mowing the lawn and fell off the roof.

And now for the happy ending: my aunt did make a full recovery, with only a slight limp today. However, she has been banned from mowing the lawn ever since!

You Got Grass Growing On Your Roof?

Since When Are Nurses Supposed To Care About Your Health?

, , , | Healthy | May 29, 2021

I’m with my baby at the emergency room.

Nurse: “Would you like anything to drink?”

Me: “Yes, please. I would like a hot chocolate.”

A bit later, the nurse returns with a large cup and hands it to me. 

Nurse: “Here! I brought you a fresh strawberry mango smoothie. Much better than that sewer drink.”

Me: “Oh, uh, thank you, but no, thank you. I—”

Nurse: “Nonsense! This is good for you with lots of vitamins. The doctor will be here soon. Tataaa!”

And she left the room. I’m allergic to fruit.

Quacktose Intolerant

, , , , , | Healthy | May 24, 2021

When I am a teenager, I have pain in my abdomen. After six months of running around different departments, it is established that I could be lactose intolerant.

Doctor: “I suggest you visit a dietitian to make sure everything goes okay as you cut milk out of your diet. Try [Dietitian] right here in the hospital.”

My mother and I agree. Red flags should have been apparent from the beginning.

We call to make the appointment.

Dietitian: “Do you want to be seen at the hospital or at my house? There are more options if I see you in my home.”

After verifying with our health insurance that they will accept this appointment and pay, my mother agrees to the appointment for me.

Dietitian: “Please bring along the pain meds that you have been taking and the soy milk you have replaced the regular milk with.”

On the day of the appointment, we sit down in what appears to be the dietitian’s living room. The dietitian gestures to something on the table.

Dietitian: “This is the Asyra machine which will measure your bioenergy field to establish what you can and can’t tolerate in your diet.”

I am doing my A-levels at this point with the hope of going to study veterinary medicine, and this sounds like nonsense to me, but being British and too polite to stop her, I allow her to carry on. She gets me to hold these electrodes which, apparently, is all I need to do.

My mother helpfully intervenes.

Mother: “But they are not plugged in.”

Confidence going down by the second, I do as asked and the machine starts to generate a wiggly line. As we go on, the dietitian starts going on about how, “The machine thinks this,” or, “The machine knows that,” making it seem that this machine is alive. Eyebrows continue to rise.

Her analysis says that I should be fine with milk but I should really avoid eggs and onions, which I know is complete rubbish as I have been on an exclusion diet for a couple of months and recently reintroduced eggs and onions into my diet with no issues at all.

Dietitian: “Can I test the milk and pills you brought along so I can see if they’re good for you?”

She first decides to test the soy milk, which is in a carton containing plastic which, as many primary school pupils will tell you, does not conduct electricity. She places the carton on top of a metal plate and runs the machine. She is horrified by the result.

Dietitian: “You should stop drinking this immediately; it is terrible for your system!”

Me: *Politely* “I’ve been drinking this milk for about three months and I have been feeling much better since then.”

She frowns for a second, trying to reconcile this.

Dietitian: “Well, the machine is calibrated to American soy milk, so maybe you can drink British soy milk without issues. Try to avoid it if you are in the States.”

“WTF?!” does not cover our thoughts at this point.

She moves onto my pain meds. I have two I am using and I have them in the same box for convenience. Again, the woman takes the box and plonks it on the plate.

Mother: “There are two in the box.”

She regrets saying this immediately. The dietitian sorts between the two and repeats the process. According to the machine, one is good and one won’t work for me. I do seem to be becoming slightly immune to one, so this seems correct, but she got them the wrong way around.

Now comes the sales pitch: apparently, the machine is telling her that my gut pH is too low and this needs to be rectified with probiotics. Normally, the bottle for a month would cost £200, but she is willing to give me a sample bottle for free. We accept without arguing, for simplicity.

Dietitian: “Do you have any questions?”

Me: “I’m really missing chocolate. When can I add that back into my diet?”

Dietitian: “You will have no issues with chocolate and can start eating it immediately.”

This is completely at odds with my exclusion diet. Basically, if I add more than one thing a week, I have to wait two weeks for any symptoms to clear before starting to add things again, possibly from scratch. Not going to happen.

We leave and I think there are two seconds of silence in the car before my mum and I burst out laughing.

Sometime later, we receive the report. Nowhere does it mention milk. In the meantime, I have taken a lactose tolerant test and it turns out I am about as intolerant as it is possible to be. Another highlight of the report is that radon gas — that radioactive gas that causes neighborhood evacuations when leaks are detected — is better for me than… carrots.

We turn to the hospital and complain about this woman and her quackery. However, they won’t do anything as the appointment occurred outside the hospital and they are not responsible, even though their doctor recommended her and she is an employee of the hospital. We also have a two-month battle with the insurance for them to pay her, even though they said they would before we went.

As a final note, we looked up this Asyra machine online. It turns out that in the US (and the UK), it is only licensed to measure skin resistance, and if it is used to measure anything else in the US, you can sue the doctor.

It was all a complete and utter waste of time, but it gave me a good story.