A Spoonful of Sugar

I don’t know anyone who looks forward to medical tests, especially the kind that involve needles and tubes and drugs. But what’s impressive is how much easier it is to endure the poking, prodding and relative indignity of these things (can you ever look respectable in a garment that’s completely open at the back?) when the professionals you’re dealing with make an effort to be kind.

That’s what I concluded this week after accompanying my husband to a medical appointment. If you work in the health-care sector, I hope you know that a friendly smile, a lighthearted joke, a respectful tone of voice and the offer of a warm blanket may seem like small potatoes, but they make a real difference to the guy in the hospital gown.

And if, in fact, you just happen to be the sweet, gentle nurse who chatted about people we knew in common, or if you’re the slightly hyper one who was no end of cheerful… if you’re the equipment technician who was patient and gracious, or the doc who was willing to try doing a procedure differently so my husband would be safer and more comfortable… if you’re the medical secretary who always makes us feel special, trading titles of hot-pick fiction and guiding us through a staff-only shortcut to the cafeteria… if you had a sense of humour while you helped us… thank you, thank you, thank you. I hope you know you made the day a whole lot easier.

Our healthcare system isn’t perfect. But when the people working in it behave just about perfectly, it goes one heck of a long way.

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