Monday, February 9, 2009

Me and Ellen

A few years ago I had osteomyelitis, which is an infection of the bone. For a couple of months my hand hurt. It started out slightly painful and got to the point where if I touched it, the pain was incredible. I really hate going to the doctors so I pretended it would go away. I guess I was able to stand it because I was taking pain medication for my herniated discs. And I didn't want any medical expenses I couldn't afford to pay.

Well, one day I woke to find my hand enormously swollen, and a harsh red area on the inside of my upper wrist. My husband with his usual finesse, dubbed it my lobster claw. Well I was in the hospital for two weeks on massive doses of antibiotics. The pain was just incredible, nothing is worse than bone pain.

After that I had to go to the hospital every morning to get my antibiotics for over two months. I would go to Good Samaritan Hospital in West Palm Beach, every day including weekends.
On the weekdays I found myself in a large room, the same room that I had a PICC line installed in my arm. Ouch! Anyways, there were people there getting blood or platelet transfusions for cancer, and things like that done, as well as people like me. There were those there who had fatal diseases and suffered with fear and pain. A smile became a big thing for these people. It was, well, it was sad.

Now mind you I never watched Ellen before that. But because the TV was a community thing, I had to watch it. I found the show funny and engaging. But the very best part came, when Ellen danced.

Those who could hopped up out of their reclining chairs, including the nurses and aides. A sad and depressing place suddenly came alive. They were dancing around and laughing, and I couldn't believe it. For a few short minutes every day, they danced. They forgot for a moment, they forgot the pain, the fear and the unhappiness, and in that one moment Ellen became a star for me. Not for the comedy, but for the dancing. Can you believe it?

Toting IV poles and shuffling in slippers, rolling wheel chairs around, their pain was momentarily forgotten. A for just a while there was joy, pure joy, in a very sad place. It happened every day I was there. A little bit of momentary joy came into their lives. And for people facing death thats a good thing.

So I wrote to Ellen, and I invited her to come to the hospital and see. Well they never even answered me, they must get a million letters. But I'll bet Ellen would get a big kick out of the small gift she had given these people. A little fun for a few minutes. It would have to last some of them all day. But for them, they were able to escape. And that's where I came to realize that Ellen was doing the same thing we do as writers. I like to think that we as authors are giving that same gift to others. She gave them an escape. A time to forget their problems and have fun. How cool is that?