The Power of Kindness
I’m 16. Growing up, my parents always taught me to be kind. When I was little I thought being kind was simply not being mean. For years I have been sick with neurological and spinal problems and have dealt with a lot of doctors, most of which have been smart and kind enough. Although I could stand these doctors, it wasn’t until I moved to Ohio and met my pediatrician that I realized how small acts of kindness have made me feel so much more comfortable, safe, and trusting.
I had met with countless medical professionals who tried to help me, but when tests came back normal and they couldn’t diagnose me, I was referred to other doctors and the cycle continued for years. When I met with my pediatrician, Dr. Leanza, he was very thorough like other doctors, but his attitude was different. He cared about how being sick affected me, my life, and the people around me. He went above and beyond anyone else. When it was hard to find a diagnosis, he didn’t give up. When I got very sick he called to check on me once a week on his drive home from work. Whenever we found something that seemed to fit my symptoms, whether it was rare or not, he was very supportive. He called me on his days off and encouraged me to stay positive and I trusted my health with him because of his kind demeanor.
In the summer of 2007, I was finally diagnosed correctly with Arnold Chiari Syndrome, a brain and spinal condition which would mean having spinal and brain surgery. I had to go to Long Island, New York for surgery and I was nervous because Dr. Leanza couldn’t be involved in any of my treatment. I headed to New York to see the top neurosurgeons in the country.
My usual experience with doctors continued as I was passed from neurologists to cardiologists to surgeons. Once again, I got the feeling that they were knowledgeable and wanted to help me but they didn’t go out of their way to make me feel comfortable; to be extraordinarily kind, until Dr. Remi came in to prep me for surgery. He was a tall, dark, broad man who looked like he should be on a football field. He spoke with compassion and his jokes and lighthearted manner made me instantly feel at ease. I could feel my nerves calm as I realized once again that God had sent me a doctor who not only had a big brain, but a big heart.
Dr. Remi was there for every surgery. When I entered the operating room, nurses, doctors, and anesthesiologists bustled around ignoring me while Dr. Remi sat with me and talked. He held my hand while I was put to sleep. He went out of his way to see that the same nurses and anesthesiologists were in all of my procedures so that the familiar faces would make me feel more comfortable. The fact that Dr. Remi wasn’t only a doctor, but a friend definitely helped my recovery. When I felt safe and loved by the people who were holding my life in their hands I was able to sit back and heal knowing they had my best interests in mind. The older I get the more I really understand what my parents mean by being kind, and how powerful kindness can truly be. Having experiences where kindness changed my life has made me appreciate the fact that everyone has the power to be kind. Kindness is the new cycle of my life. When someone is kind to me it makes me want to be kind to others—to keep it going. The kindness of my doctors has made me want to be a kind doctor because I know the difference it can make. George Sand once said, “Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.” Kindness is a gift that everyone can and should give because you never know how even a small act of kindness could help someone else.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.