Along for the ride:

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Do What You Can, Where You Are, With What You Have

I met a French tourist today, walking the hallway of the hospital, with her husband and son. On Tuesday she climbed on a tour bus with people who had become friends, as they travelled and visited together. There was an accident. She never lost consciousness, she said, but she did loose an arm. She is up and walking around. She hopes her luggage will catch up with her before she flies home to France tomorrow. She has nothing to wear but a hospital gown.
She is one of the lucky ones. There are French people colonizing Northern California, one ICU bed at a time.
I spread my card with contact info through patients and nurses on several levels of the hospital. I missed some people because they were visiting spouses in rooms on different floors. I got a call back from a gentleman who arrived today to find his wife at Stanford Hospital's NT ICU, which I believe means Neuro-Trauma Intensive Care. I hope I misheard and it was something more mundane. The nurse with whom I spoke had given him my message and amongst all this drama he took the time to call and thank me for my offer of lodging whilst he's here.
There were some people from the Consulate going from patient to patient, checking on everyone. With them, as with the walking wounded, our encounters were oddly stilted, punctuated by smiles that felt callous and inappropriate. I was glad to see that the system has geared up to do what needs to be done.
Another message waited at home. This from the Maison des Francais a l'Etranger, I am on stand-by tomorrow, there are incoming family members who may or may not need a place to stay. They will receive whatever support I can offer and I know that I am not the only one.


  1. Just knowing that you are out there like a beacon of light, comfort, and reassurance for a lost sailor on a difficult voyage brings tears to my eyes. I admire your willingness to be "on call." It is a kindness, the memory of which will follow some people for the rest of their days.

    Bon courage, ma chere,

  2. Linda, you are a very good and kind person. X

  3. Once again, I have to admire your generosity.

    The stories are so sad, though. The woman who lost her arm and the man looking for his wife in "maybe" the neuro trauma wing.

    Isn't it amazing how he took the time to call you to say, "Thank you," even in all his anxiety. It just goes to show how important what you are doing really is.