I always look forward to the last five minutes of the evening news, which usually feature a feel-good story emphasizing the basic goodness in each of us. My husband often is surprised at the stories he sees. Having once partaken of the bread of human kindness, I see nothing unusual in the selfless acts I see portrayed. I only wish more of them were routinely televised.
Many years ago, I developed a stubborn infection. When the first round of antibiotics proved ineffective, a course of sulfa drugs was prescribed. These drugs quickly produced an itchy rash and shortness of breath, for which I was hospitalized.
Both symptoms are commonly seen with anaphylaxis. However, I also was completely paralyzed — I couldn’t move anything but my head. This was not common at all!
After a couple of injections and some oxygen, my breathing normalized, and the itching subsided. However, my arms and legs still refused to move.
Days of neurological testing revealed nothing abnormal. Specialists were consulted, and they all shook their heads. With help, I could take a couple of steps. The rheumatologist’s best guess was that fibromyalgia was responsible for my body’s unusual reaction to anaphylaxis.
In time, my strength returned. Despite my tearful protests of living alone in a multilevel house, I was discharged from the hospital the next morning with visits from physical and occupational therapists scheduled.
A strong male friend of a friend drove me home and carried me inside. After depositing me on the couch with my hospital-issued walker and a glass of water nearby, he left. I was alone, terrified, and bewildered. How would I survive on my own?
There I was, on the first floor of my home while my bedrooms were on the second floor and my laundry room in the basement. Even navigating the single step up to the kitchen and the powder room seemed insurmountable to me. I had no one to call. None of my family lived in town, and my friends had all been colleagues prior to my disability two years earlier. They were all at work.
I lay there for hours, wrapped tightly against the cold in my tear-soaked afghan. I lacked the strength to get to the thermostat in the next room.
Here’s where the feel-good story begins. Just before dark, a neighbor arrived with a home-cooked meal and an offer to help in any way needed. Apparently, she’d seen the ambulance arrive days earlier and had been watching for my return. She also must have spread the word of my condition.
During the weeks of my recovery, people I’d only seen in passing for many years appeared at my home regularly. Many brought meals. One brought cleaning supplies and her vacuum cleaner. Another brought an empty laundry basket that she filled in the morning and returned in the evening with my clean and folded clothes. An elderly widower brought a bag of staples including eggs, milk, and butter. He apologized that he didn’t cook, but offered to drive to the grocery store for me.
I was astonished! My faith in human nature — which had flagged since practically being forced to leave the hospital — was restored in full. Without a doubt, those acts of kindness helped me heal.
So, am I surprised when I see good deeds highlighted on the news? Not at all! In my experience, when help was needed, help appeared. Once you’ve been the fortunate recipient of such kindness, you feel an obligation to repay it.
Even with the unpredictable limitations of fibromyalgia, there’s always something I can do to fill a need I see. Sometimes making a few phone calls is the best I can offer. Other times I can do much more. But I can always do something. We all can. Besides, the good feeling you get from helping another person is worth any effort you expend.
Let’s all look out for our neighbors. And when you think about it, aren’t we all neighbors?
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.
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