Just a few thoughts about heroism.
After my accident, when I was released from the hospital and miraculously returned to consciousness, there were many people who called me a hero. At that time, being somewhat arrogant, I bought into the idea, and began to believe the hype, but time has brought me to a more realistic state of mind. The real heroes of my recovery are all the many people who cared for me. My mom is in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Although I appreciated the care of the nurses, attendants and other care givers, I was a bit callous to how difficult their job really was. After all, they were getting paid, and it was just a job. Then I found myself waking up in a nursing home myself. I would like to tell you that I was a good patient and that I was appreciative of the care I was given, but that is not the truth. In actuality I was about the worst patient that you could find. The time in a coma had left me weak, needing lots of care, and the brain injury had left me a bit of a nut case as well. In spite of this people didn't give up. So here is a list of the real heroes.
The doctors and nurses who gave me care and treatment that was unrivaled.
Bao and Nhui who came in to see me and brought flowers and a small amount of fruit. (grapes) I wasn't really thrilled with the flowers, but the grapes were like gold. I wasn't allowed to eat yet, so I stashed the grapes, and they became my little cache of treats.
The emergency crew who responded to the accident. I was in pretty bad shape, and many times they never know the final result of the care they give, but they keep doing it anyway, selflessly and expertly.
The airlift crew, that got me to the hospital, and the lifesaving care I needed.
Larry, who in spite of his own discomfort, kept coming in to see me and pray for my recovery.
Angela, who gave me an example of what compassion and caring can achieve.
Marian, who had 'Rod beautification days' where she would do the everyday things I couldn't do for myself like clean my ears, cut my hair, shave my face and all the little but important things that we take so much for granted in our daily lives.
Brian, for his undying faith. He brought his daughter in when he came to see me. He wanted to show her that hospitals aren't a scary place, and that people do get better, no matter how bad it may seem. His little daughter used to say her prayers something like this "God bless mommy. god bless daddy and God bless Rod". She believed, Brian believed, and their prayers were answered.
There are many more heroes, many I will never know. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our daily lives that we lose sight of how much a difference we can make by doing even the little things. True heroes are those that give up the things they would like to do, and do something for someone else, regardless of the cost or inconvenience.
I am not a hero, but I have had the privilege of being in the company of people who embody all that heroism really means.
It is now December of 2007 and the idea of heroes is once again on my mind. I remember the roommate I had when I was in the hospital for intensive rehab at the end of my hospitalization after the accident. He was in even worse shape than I was, and at one point said that I was his hero. When I asked him why he said, 'Cause you can go to the bathroom!' It seems that we can find heroes in some unlikely places. There always seems to be someone in worse shape that just keeps continuing on with their life and gives us the example of courage we need to go on in spite of our own difficulty that may seem so difficult and insurmountable in our own mind. These heroes can be found in some of the most unlikely places if we can just open our eyes and look for them. Every time I go to the bathroom I think of him and remember just how lucky I am to have received the miracle that I did. The other person that has been on my mind a lot lately is Melissa. She made me promise to be at her birthday celebration for her program anniversary. I made that promise even when I thought I would never leave the nursing home I was in. By the grace of a loving God I was able to make that celebration. In the time since then she has fought her own struggles with addiction and has struggled to once again find recovery. There are times when I am having a tough time with my physical limitations that I feel like giving up and forgetting my plans to fly back to Seattle and visit old friends in May of next year, but Melissa is once again in recovery, and once again inspires me to keep trying and to keep looking forward. Once again I find myself promising something that I at times don't believe in. I'll be there to see you Melissa! Keep the faith, and so will I. See you then.