I’d been showing up in many hospitals and wellness centers for years. I was spotted in facilities in Connecticut, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin. I was even seen hanging out at a health and fitness complex in New Zealand.
I wasn’t actually visiting those facilities, but a photo of me was. A few years prior, a photographer had hired me for a health and wellness photo shoot. I posed wearing bright pink workout gear and happily lifting hand weights. Other shots showed me taking vitamins, getting weighed and eating healthy food. I was the smiling personification of a healthy, active, middle-aged woman and those images were being used in hospital posters and materials.
For a while it was fun, to see my email inbox fill up with messages from friends and colleagues which said “I looked up and saw your face when I was at my doctor’s office” or “I’ve seen your doppelganger.” But as time went on, that photo began to remind me how much my body had changed. My right hip and my lower back was causing me constant pain. I had also developed an obvious limp.
That smiling blonde in the photo and I were having less and less in common. While she was out there inspiring others to stay fit and healthy, tough looking guys were making me take their subway seats. While it good to see New York City’s bigheartedness in action, I wasn’t enjoying that kind of attention.
You see, as a born and bred New Yorker, walking was my expression of joy, pride and competition! Was my bus or train delayed? No problem! Why waste time standing in a growing crowd when I could leg it? It was much more fun to be moving and capturing the city rhythms with my footsteps.
Unfortunately, at some point I lost that great connection with my city. New York City streets looked like they were getting longer and subway stairs felt steeper. Commutes were planned to the last step, and the words “Are you OK?” became a constant greeting. I knew that it was time to face facts and make a change. That was not the way I wanted to live.
So I researched my medical options and convinced myself that I had done enough homework. I scheduled surgery and became the ideal patient: studied my hand-outs, attended classes, etc. But as I worked my way through the preparation process, I started to have second thoughts. I realized the medical team weren’t answering my questions or addressing specific concerns. “You’ll know what you need to know before you go into surgery” was the standard response. After that happened a few times, I listened to my instincts and cancelled surgery. I felt that if I didn’t trust the process, this wasn’t the right medical partnership for me.
So I endured another year of pain and resumed my research. One hospital kept coming up in conversation - HSS. I would hear about a patient’s experience or overhear a telling comment “I wished I had gone to HSS.” So I took it as a very good sign, when my husband called me to say that I needed to speak to his colleague about her hip surgery with Doctor Mathias Bostrom. We spoke and I scheduled an appointment.
When I met Dr. Mathias Bostrom, he answered my questions, gave me a straight forward assessment of my condition, explained his methodology and even smiled when I provided a humorous description of my current state and coping techniques.
While I learned about my hip and the surgical process during my initial consultation, my HSS education didn’t end when our appointment finished. I developed trust because I learned about HSS’ high standards and commitment to exemplary customer service and attention in multiple ways.
My learnings occurred when:
• Every call and email was answered promptly and courteously.
• Employees heard me walking behind them in the hallway and turned around to check if I knew where I was going, then walked me in that direction.
• My x-ray technician couldn’t say enough good things about his work experience and how he encounters former HSS patients when he is on vacation.
• Multiple staff people told me how hard it would be to duplicate HSS’ standards and work elsewhere.
• A blast of Artic air welcomed me to the operating room and verified how HSS is able to maintain its low rate of infection!
• I listened to the sounds of my hospital room’s maintenance attendant as they cleaned the other half of my room. I couldn’t see them, but I heard them as they moved through each part of the room and cleaned the air conditioner vents, the floors, the corners and the fixtures.
• Nurses and aides were patient, cheerful and timely with my requests
• I chatted with the physical therapists and learned the reasons they chose and love their specialty.
• I saw that the staff were able to handle any stressful situation with diplomacy. I watched them handle challenging patients with patience and grace.
• There was a brief, tense moment on my end as well, when during one of my exercise sessions I found out that my physical therapist duo had attended a rival high school! Fortunately, we worked out our differences and they didn’t make me do additional laps around the floor.
• I also had a terrific experience with the Lawrence Visiting Nurse services when I returned home.
• I began my physical therapy at HSS – White Plains and experienced the welcoming and organized atmosphere the front desk staff create.
• I was assigned to one physical therapist who got to know me and my body. Debi Jones was patient and knowledgeable; a great combination of coach and educator. She had a good sense of humor and “got” my quirky metaphors and descriptions. She took “the whole person” into consideration during our sessions. Debi took the time to remember about other things that were going on in my life whether it was a query about my conference presentation or my dad’s memorial. Her comments and questions were greatly appreciated.
As you can see a lot of learning has taken place over the last 10 months, and I greatly appreciate the medical care and attention I received. But as you can see, while the staff at HSS were helping me to live a better story, I was learning theirs. The HSS staff has written a very good story.
A heartfelt and big “Thank you!”
PS I am back to working with rhythm* and joy!
*but not too much Debi!!