Health Care Heroes

It isn’t often that I come across someone who just has Celiac Disease. I’m no exception to this, given that new diagnoses tend to arise frequently for me. My newest diagnosis, Fibromyalgia, which has caused my brief absence, is only a week old, but it leaves a question lingering in the back of my mind – when will the next shoe drop?

My entire life, this has been a constant fear as I switched from doctor to doctor, and as each new condition rolled in, I began to fear the hospital and what it represented to me just as much as I feared the future. Even in children’s hospitals with brightly colored painting and friendly decorations, I always felt a sense of dread – would this appointment only lead to more testing?

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to come across a team of doctors and health care workers who quickly changed that for me. This exceptional team helped me through the difficult and long process of working towards my eventual Celiac diagnosis with their outstanding generosity and kindness. But sometimes, it’s not just the doctors that manage to leave a lasting impact.

Frank, who works at my local hospital as the laboratory secretary, never fails to put a smile on my face. For as long as I can remember, he’s been the main reason that blood draws have even been bearable, seeing as I am terrified of needles. He’s the first face I see when I walk in the doors to the hospital, and without fail, he always shoots up from his chair the moment he sees me, waving me over for a hug and a health update.

I remember on one of my particularly bad days before I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, my mother and I had stopped at the hospital to pick up some record release forms so my doctors in other hospital systems could access my results as well. I chose to stay in the car, seeing as at the time, walking was too painful and exhausting. As I rested my head against the window, I heard a soft tap on the glass. There stood Frank with a bright smile, his arms wide. Frank sat with me on the curb of the hospital parking lot, encouraging me to keep fighting and reassuring me that things would get better soon. He had to return to his desk soon, but not before making me promise to never give up on myself – and to this day, I haven’t.

It’s the doctors and health care workers like Frank that have truly made a difference in the journey to a diagnosis. While my life was still filled with long diagnostic tests, procedures, and frequent appointments, knowing that I had a friendly face to help me through the day has made an enormous and positive impact in my life. Sometimes, just the smallest things can make a big difference, especially to teens who are going through so much.

Do you have any doctors/health care workers that have gone above and beyond? Let Valerie know in the comments below!