Message to Carl: Wow! Big, as in really big, cold, impersonal hospital! Then I got to the front door and my biases and ill-conceived notions began to be shattered one by one. First there was the beautiful Caroline, a stunningly gorgeous Indian woman who has been in the United States since 1978. Her parents arrived here four years earlier after putting her and her two sisters in an orphanage where they would stay until her parents were able to afford bringing them to America. Now she is a highly skilled and extremely personable registered nurse who does intake procedures at St. John’s hospital in Detroit for surgical same day procedures. Bottom line; one hundred per cent for efficiency and quality and two hundred per cent for making an old geezer like me feel comfortable about the morning’s spinal surgery for a ruptured disc that had persisted as a result of a fall on my bicycle in September 2007. I have to go back one step; I love to read and I constantly have a novel at my side lest I waste a spare minute without having the opportunity to occupy my time by its reading. I was instructed to arrive at eight o’clock in the morning for a thirty five minute surgery that was to begin at eleven o’clock. That gives me about two hours and fifty minutes for reading if the experience was going to be a typical contact with the medical providers. I’ll eliminate the mystery right up front. I did not have one moment in time to read my book. Following Caroline came the charming and effusive Dr. Haas, an eighty year old physician who has been retired from private practice since age sixty five. A big man, but cute in his bow tie and sparkly eyes as he told corny jokes non-stop. A regular standup comedian, but he did his job, completing my screening physical examination thoroughly and, competently. Did I mention that he was from Austria and fought against our side in World War Two? He came to the United States after the war and was immediately drafted into the American army where he served three years in Korea during that war. He went to Germany to obtain his medical training because the Veteran’s Bill did not cover former combatants against the U.S. He returned to this country shortly after completing his training and practiced at the Hollywood Clinic on Mack in Grosse Pointe until his retirement. Dr. Haas’ bottom line; one hundred per cent for efficiency and two hundred percent for the aforementioned ‘making it easy for an old guy.’ The pattern is beginning to become clear by now. I was a star. The reception that I was receiving made me feel like a star. I was somebody special and Caroline and Dr. Haas had that wonderful ability to make it so. Whatever adjectives that describe the opposite of cold and impersonal would apply to the two of them and to my continuing venture through the pre-surgical arena, surgery room, recovery room and my private room which was more like a fancy hotel room in New York than a hospital room in Detroit. The attentiveness of the hospital staff and my surgeon were beyond anything that I imagined and I have elected not to delve more deeply into the various persons that I came across. Suffice it to say that these contacts were Caroline/Dr. Haas-like.
Why did I start this writing with the mention of Carl? Carl is a friend of mine, a retired orthopedic surgeon, who has graciously kept track of me and my back conditions for more than ten years on a more or less informal basis. If forced to describe what Carl does, I would say that he is a healer who brings the quality of compassion to his dealings with people big time. He does so in a way that he makes someone like me feel like a star. Carl, sometime in the next week, you will receive a package that will reflect my appreciation for what you have done for me and, hopefully, the discussion above will explain the message conveyed on the contents of that package.