In my previous blog post, I discussed the process of diagnosing the precise causes of the intense pain, neurological weakening, and muscle atrophy I was experiencing, and then determining that surgery was the best and only option.
One of the most challenging parts of this entire experience for me was the early stage of recovery. I wanted to be there for my patients. I had never been out of work for more than a week. And I’m not the kind of person who can sit around and do nothing. I’ve been active my entire life.
But I just had surgery. My body needed rest.
It was during this period of inactivity, especially in the days right after my surgery, that I discovered the impact of being visited when you’re down. Don’t get me wrong. I truly appreciate every phone call, email, text, and Facebook message I received. But the power of an in-person visit is remarkable.
Dr. Bernie Siegel, a respected author, surgeon, and professor at Yale University, has written more than a dozen books on self-healing, including Love, Medicine & Miracles: Lessons Learned about Self-Healing from a Surgeon’s Experience with Exceptional Patients. He believes the power of healing stems from the mind, unconditional love is the most powerful stimulant of the immune system, and miracles happen every day.
Dr. Siegel would bring puppies to children who were having surgery or dealing with a life-threatening illness. The concept of pet therapy, which could involve bringing a dog or some other animal to a patient, is intended to help people cope with health problems and support their recovery. Hospitals, hospices, and nursing homes now have routine visits from different animals who provide patients with love and kindness. Last Year, The Ellen Show brought attention to a video of a horse visiting a hospital to lift the spirits of patients.
Nobody is suggesting that visits from family and close friends or cuddle time with puppies will cure cancer. But I do believe in the healing power of love.
Someone who feels loved has a more positive outlook. They feel stronger, mentally and emotionally. They’re more motivated to recover. They’re more likely to forget, at least temporarily, the pain they’re experiencing or the battle they’re fighting.
The holiday season is supposed to bring people together. Think of people who could use a visit, especially at this time of year. Instead of calling, emailing, or texting, go see them. Spend time with them. Have meaningful conversations. Do something fun to brighten their day.
You’ll find the experience just might brighten your day, too.
Of course, let’s not wait until the people we love are sick, injured, or down on their luck to spend time with them. Technology is a great tool for staying in touch across long distances, but nothing matches the power of an embrace, a face-to-face conversation, and time spent together.
Personally, I’ll never forget the people who physically came to the hospital and my house to see me. I thank God for their love and support. I hope you’ll join me in doubling my efforts to spend time with people I care about, not just when they’re down, but while we’re all happy, healthy, and enjoying life to the fullest.