This isn't my story, but I feel like it should be. Karen (not her real name™) wrote me with a link to a video to me over a year ago, and it has unfortunately been buried under my "stupid patient stories" list until now:
Dear Doc Bastard,
You write about your important cases and tell such great stories, yet you have mentioned that some patients never even showed up to their post-surgery check-ups. Has anyone ever come up to you months or even years later to thank you for helping them? How did or would you react? What's your opinion of patients overall, and do you think many patients realise just how much doctors such as yourself do for them?
I'd be really interested to know if you've seen this video, and wanted to suggest that you could write a short blog post either about it or at least inspired by it, like about gratitude or something like that.
Thank you so much for being such an inspiration to so many doctors, aspiring doctors and just generally kind human beings. It's funny that despite your slightly crude online persona, you still seem like a very kind-hearted man and you inform everyone about important safety issues - I myself have made sure to always wear my seatbelt in the car ever since I read your first post about it.
I hope Mrs. Bastard and the little bastards I'll admit it feels strange calling them this when they must be such fantastic kids) are doing well and that your work is going smoothly. With much admiration and the kindest regards, Karen (not my real name™)It's been on my "Write About This, Dammit" list since then, but I haven't been able to get to it. But that list has shrunk over the past few weeks, so I finally have the opportunity. The story went viral back then, getting covered on national television shows and various other news outlets, so I'm way behind the game here. Nevertheless I still feel like story this deserves to be covered here in case anyone missed it.
I've written before about the impact of saying "Thank you" to your doctor, but this takes that concept to an entirely new level.
In 2004 Kellie Haddock (her real name!) was in a car accident with her husband A.J. and their 14-week-old son Eli in Orlando, Florida. A.J. tragically died in the accident, and baby Eli was airlifted to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children with serious injuries, including intracranial bleeding. Though the paediatric team at the hospital worked tirelessly to treat Eli and his trauma-induced seizures, Kellie was told that even if he recovered he would most likely never walk.
Less than a week later, Kellie took Eli home.
Fast forward 11 years, and Eli has made a full recovery. He's now a happy, healthy tween, Kellie remarried, and her new husband adopted Eli. While this may seem like a nice, heartwarming story, it fortunately doesn't end there. Ten years after the accident, Kellie was inspired to track down every member of the medical team that made Eli's recovery possible - first responders, the flight medic, the respiratory therapist, nurses, doctors . . . everyone - in what she appropriately called the Thank You Project.
In pointing out exactly what's wrong (but what could be right) with the world, Kellie said, "We rarely take the time to notice when people are doing things right. I want to be a person that points out when someone does something right. How much better would the world be if we all spent more time focusing on what’s right instead of what’s wrong?"
So Kellie found them all, arranged to meet them, and then threw an elaborate dinner for everyone. And all of them got to meet Eli, now a very bouncy (and very normal) 11-year old. Tears flowed, as would be expected.
I feel happy when I get even a simple "Thank you" from a patient or family member, elated when I get a hug, and absolutely on top of the world when I get a card or a fruit basket. So I cannot even begin to imagine how honoured all these people felt when Kellie found them. Kellie went way above and beyond as her way of saying "Thanks", but if everyone made even a tiny fraction of the effort that Kellie did, just imagine the possibilities.
Here is the video that Kellie made with the assistance of Strongfilms, a professional video company.
Thank you Karen for sending this to me. And thank you, Kellie. Thank you for saying "Thank you." That means more than you will ever know.