Monday, February 15, 2010


Today, on a run, I came across a friend who’s recovering from five operations for a horrendous arm injury. During these months of convalescence, she’s salvaged a few lessons.

While in the hospital, she told me, she became fascinated with a process used in her treatment. Called “negative pressure wound therapy,” it creates a partial vacuum at the wound site and so attracts more blood, with its healing elements, while it accelerates fluid drainage.

“That’s what real healing is,” she told me. “Real healing is from the inside out. The other direction, from the outside in, is just bandaids. Most of my doctors and nurses came at me from the inside, from their hearts. That and the WoundVac were my most powerful treatments.”

Twenty years ago the University of Chicago Medical Center sent a survey to people who’d been inpatients there. One of the questions was “What category of hospital personnel most influenced your recovery?” The categories listed included nurses, doctors, social workers, technicians, and “others (describe).” The most frequently checked was “others,” usually described as housekeeping staff.

The housekeeper’s the tired lady who rolls her mop bucket into your room and asks if she can just sit a bit before cleaning your floor. "Sure," you say, and she plops herself into a chair, sighs, and says, “Honey, why are you in here?” She doesn’t have any bandaids, only what’s inside.


  1. Thank you. So true. The one who has no agenda just provides us what we need.

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