Saturday, September 15, 2007

Taking A Chance

Could I be so bold as to offer a little advice, or at least a suggestion?

I spent the day with my Father-in-Law yesterday. He needed to be in the hospital to receive his chemotherapy treatment. We talked a lot, hung out for a while.

One thing I have learned with illness is that there is an enemy out there just as powerful as the diseases themselves. Loneliness seems inherent to debilitating illness. But I think we're all somewhat aware of that, so without adding a whole lot of philosophy here, let me just get to the point.

If someone in your life is ill, someone you know is hurting, be there. Really, really be there. I saw a few people in the medical center who were brought there by transportation provided by the medical center. They had no one there with them, no one to take them home. I spoke to one gentleman who started a conversation about "Ensure", and then revealed a lot of things that just showed how lonely he is.

When you look at my day, all I did was drive to my father-in-law's home, take him to the hospital, hang out with him and bring him home. We watched some of the Yankee game together, but that was it. All it cost me was some time, but this man expressed his gratitude so many times, I got the point.

So, if you think you should call, call. Make a point to offer to help, and then do it. If you think you're bothering them, do it anyway.

This isn't just me talking like an advice columnist or something. I have a little experience in the area. I was disabled for months, to the point where I was literally lying in bed for days. And I can tell you that nothing that happened to my body was anywhere near as painful as the feeling of being abandoned. In my case, there was some good to it, as people I expected to be there sure let me down, but people I'd have never guessed, came through in a big way.

This is more for the people who are just abandoned. Who haven't gotten the "surprise" of the unexpected people yet. I can tell you that the slightest gesture matters. Make sure that those folks don't have to wonder if they count. Tell them they do. And, from experience, I can tell you this doesn't involve gifts, or money, or anything spectacular. The only investment you have to make is time.

Think about it a minute, and then do it, OK?

38 comments:

  1. Anonymous1:25 PM

    Always thought provoking!! As I was reading, mental pictures were flashing in my head of those I've neglected, ignored, and just plain haven't had time to bother with. Sad. Thanks for jolting me out of my comfort "me, me" mode. I'll call my mom.
    xoxo ~Myra

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  2. Anonymous1:26 PM

    WOW, as a person who suffers with chronic illness, your entry brought tears to my eyes. Everything you said is so dead on RIGHT and true. Your father-in-law is blessed to have you. BTW, love your blogs, on AOL and here.

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  3. Tiffany S.1:31 PM

    I absolutely agree. Sometimes not being around for my Dad before he died is one of my biggest regrets. Show the ones you really love that you're always there for them while you still can.

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  4. Anonymous1:53 PM

    Jimmy, I can't tell you how many people I've taken care of in the hospital that literally have nobody. We have to call them a cab when they are discharged. It's very sad to see. Loneliness is epidemic in this nation, and we really need to work on resolving this. Great entry!
    Hugs to you,
    Pam

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  5. So profound. If you didn't live across the country (and we actually knew each other) I'd have visited you while you were disabled.

    We all need human contact; and we all need people who care. Thanks for the reminder.

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  6. You and Mary are so much alike. I think the world of you Jimmy. AND you are so on point here! Anne

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  7. Anonymous2:59 PM

    Sometimes, Jimmy, there are people out there in the world that suffers from lonliness and no one ever knows it...
    Jackie aka BamaWmn

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  8. Absolutely true and beautiful. Well said. I will take that advice.

    Laura

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  9. You are so brilliant with your words. I have already taken your advice, and it's proved succesful. Thnk you making me understand what i should be doing.
    xoxo
    Niki

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  10. Anonymous3:42 PM

    Great entry. When my mom was in a nursing home...before Hospice...the people who were alone all day just broke my heart. I could not walk through the halls and not cry. The nurses ignored them...and they just wanted someone to stop and listen to them.

    Tracie

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  11. Anonymous5:02 PM

    You will surely inspire many with this entry, Jimmy. As you so effortlessly and always do. Many thoughts and faces are floating through my mind. It's been too long... Thank you for reminding me.

    Hugs,
    Chelle

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  12. Fortunately, I'm one of the people that does things like this...especially for my lonely, mentally ill 81 year old aunt, whom is neglected by everyone...even her own 4 children.
    But the reminder in this entry is a beautiful one.

    I too, would have visited you in a heartbeat. I think you know that.

    Nance

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  13. You don't even need to leave J-land to see your point, Jimmy. But being there in the flesh is even more of a tonic to the seriously ill.

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  14. Anonymous5:52 PM

    hi lippo i am just now getting my computer back
    bout time huh? sheesh
    but reading this entry is very very true...i learned about the time thing at a very young age.
    hope you are well today i've missed ya :)
    we need pogo date again soon, :)

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  15. I have a friend who battled colon cancer. I used to take time off from work every Tuesday afternoon -her "long days" of chemo - to sit with her at the hospital. All we did was hang out and gab, maybe read magazines. She has now been cancer free for five years.

    She had been such a wonderful friend to me, it was just a given that I would be there for her as far as I was concerned.

    If I had been anywhere near you, Jimmy, and known what you were going through, I would have been there for you too.

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  16. You're so right. I just love that you did this for your kid's Grandpa. You're awesome!

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  17. Anonymous6:43 PM

    I agree completely Jimmy... being alone is the worst. Being alone when there are loved ones who don't show is worse. Thanks for posting this. I bet your FIL is so happy you were there with him.
    hugs
    d

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  18. Anonymous7:28 PM

    I agree with you Jimmy. It's tough to squeeze even something as simple as time out of a day lately, but doing things like what you did are the things that are truly meaningful in life.
    Have I told you lately that you totally rock?
    Martha :-)

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  19. Anonymous12:57 AM

    so true jimmy.....thanks for reminding us.....i took photos of someone recently, her husband died, she wanted a few new photos, and she was alone....and it was nice to spend some time there and offer an ear and not just make it about a job....and i think that mattered and made a difference....so small, but it matters and i think we can all do that for someone....your story was such an important reminder to us all...thank you. netti

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  20. When I visit my 95 year old grandmother in the nursing home...it truly is pitiful how grateful they are just to have your company. It amazes me how they can sit all day with nothing but their thoughts. Thanks for the reminder!

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  21. Jimmy, as a 12 year Cancer survivor, I can certainly relate to what you are saying. I never felt forgotten, because I had my children and family around me, but, being the caregiver that I am, I am always looking for someone to "help" and/or "take care of." I don't think I could be happy if I weren't doing that. This was a very thought provoking entry (as most of yours are), and I hope that it touches someone enough to take the time to reach out to someone in need.

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  22. I'm glad you were able to be there for him. It's amazing how much good we can do, just be being there for someone who needs us - not by knowing all the answers, or being able to take away their challenges, but just by not leaving them to face something hard alone.

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  24. Hi Jimmy,
    What a coincidence. I was just reading an article in the L.A. Times yesterday which reported that scientists have now proven a connection between extreme loneliness and problems with the immune system. They can't figure out which came first, the physical problems or the loneliness but in any case the two go hand-in-hand. Research like this really makes me stop and think: If people were kinder to one another, if we prevented loneliness to begin with, maybe we'd all be a little healthier.
    Best,
    Marty

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  25. I'm always bellowing steam out my ears about people giving a little something of themselves. I constantly get: I have little or no money, I'm busy, I can't possibly make a difference like you do. I usually give it to them with both barrels, yes, you can make a difference. Every little bit helps. Time is the richest luxury you can afford someone. If your life is "too busy" for compassion and consideration, you need to empty out your head and heart and make time. Thank you for such a poignant reminder. (Hugs) Indigo

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  26. Anonymous8:30 PM

    I've also been there, where I couldn't get out or do anything. It meant the world when my son would sit on the edge of my bed and talk to me for hours at times. My ex husband couldn't - wouldn't be bothered to spend time with me. That was a real wake up call for me. You learn who is there. Great entry.

    Monica
    PS - my husband now, when I am ill, he is there as much as possible. :-) My comfort is important to him. Just as his is to me.

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  27. Jimmy,
    Thank you for this post.... for the reminder of how important it is to give of ourselves, a smile, a phone call. Just taking the time to brighten someone's day isn't asking much.
    We (me) tend to stay in our little world and not open our eyes and hearts to what could be going on in someone else's life.
    Thanks for opening my eyes today.

    Michele

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  28. You can tell how lonely people are. I was taking care of this 87 year old lady last night in the ER and she kept saying "oh I'm such a bother" or "I'm sure you have so much more to do than take care of me." I finally told her (after numerous attempts to reassure her otherwise) that "trust me, you are no bother. After 12 years of nursing I know patients who are a bother and I would tell you so. Now, what else can I do for you?" And yes, circumstances reveal the true nature of man/woman and you quickly find out who your true friends are. De ;)

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  29. Old people seem to get nervous when I'm around.

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  30. I'll give you the lip-service answer and tell you that, yes, I will take the time and talk to the lonely and then, life will happen and I'll go about my business totally forgetting all about this.
    Actually, though, I am going to my father and step-moms for dinner tonight so, that's sumptin!

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  31. Everything you said is so very true. Lonliness can far out weigh the illness itself. In fact, lonliness hurts a person's recovery time. A will to live is very important and if no one is there for you then some people conclude that living doesn't mean anything and they just curl up and die. So love your loved ones. Show love and care to your friend. Everyone deserves someone to care about them and as Jimmy says spending a little of your time is such a little thing to ask. Love ya JP.

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  32. Had big tears as I read, because have just posted the opposite end of the spectrum and how I have found being on your own. Great words my friend

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  33. This haunts me on occasion so I do what I can. Great post on how the smallest things can mean so much.

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  34. You know one of my favorite memories of being a teenager was visiting a nursing home. We went with a youth group and visited people who rarely had people visit. I was scared to death and never knew what to say, but I had some of the best experiences listening to the wisdom of the people we visited. Stepping out of your comfort zone for someone else's benefit always seems to end up helping you the most huh? I don't know whether anyone remembers the awkward teenage girls standing at the end of their bed attempting to make conversation, but I went home and wrote about it and still remember things I learned.

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  35. Anonymous10:00 AM

    I believe ya. It could be us one day and we would want someone there helping us. I know it has to be a scary thing, especially having cancer or any scary disease. You need someone helping you through it.
    Beth(bethb251)

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  36. So glad you are letting us know when you update ... I thought this was a wonderful thing to share! It is sometimes easy for us to forget who needs us the most. Hugs,
    and prayers for your FIL.
    Lisa

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