Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
- Leo Buscaglia

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My First Drive

     A couple of weeks ago I had written about signing up through the American Cancer Society to be a volunteer driver for patients who needed help getting to and from doctors' appointments.  The program is called Road to Recovery and attempts to help as many patients as possible who might otherwise have no way of getting to their appointment.  On Monday I had my program training and today I did my first "ride."
     I had been given the name and address of the woman for whom I was to drive, and according to protocol, I called her a few nights ago to confirm.  Someone else was going to drop her off at the doctor's office at 11:00, and she was expecting to be done around 4:00.  My job was to pick her up and drive her home.  I gave her my cell phone number in case she got done much earlier or expected to be much later.
     As luck would have it, my cell phone buzzed while I was having lunch with a friend.  Not expecting her to call that early, I didn't look at my phone until we were done with lunch.  Sure enough, my patient had called and was already done by 1:00!  After calling her back, I was on my way.
     When I got to the doctor's office, she was waiting patiently.  She had a walker to lean on as she moved slowly out the door and to my car.  After helping her in and folding up her walker, we made the short drive to her home.  Though I had printed directions, I had left them at home since I wasn't expecting to pick her up this early.  I wasn't concerned because I figured she could easily direct me to her house once we got to her neighborhood.  Surprisingly, she got a little confused as we got close and we had to drive around a little until she got her bearings.  I'll be driving her again next Thursday (both ways) so at least I now know where she lives!
     As I drove home after delivering her safely and accepting her appreciative thanks, I was thinking mostly about how fortunate I am to be so healthy.  As trite as it is, when people say that "if you've got your health, you've got just about everything," it's really true.  Beyond whatever form of cancer this woman had, she had so many other physical challenges as well.  Her poor eyesight, significant weight, respiratory issues, and a host of other challenges made negotiating something as simple as getting in and out of a car or walking into or out of a building extraordinarily difficult.  No doubt the routine things we take for granted as part of our daily lives present meaningful obstacles for patients like today's passenger.  I suppose the best thing I can do is to 1) help out where I can, 2) continue to take good care of myself, and 3) cherish and appreciate my good fortune.

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