A Simple Gesture

While going through life, did you ever pause for a moment and think, ‘This is not what I signed up for?’ This thought could be applied to anything from health trials, careers, marriage, kids – you name it. Life does not come with a manual. We can never be fully prepared for the unexpected of what the new day may bring. However, we can choose to try our best, give it our all, because “When the mind is backed by will, miracles happen.”

OSS Hospital

My will to get better and recover from my two back surgeries this month remains strong. During my hospital stays, I was reminded how a simple gesture such as the touch of a hand, a warm embrace, or a few kind words can have the greatest impact when facing and recovering from surgery. I was fortunate to have had an outstanding team of surgeons, doctors, nurses and technicians that took care of me. Today I want to thank all of those in the medical field, acknowledge my exceptional team, and express how the smallest actions make the world of difference to patients.

When I’m prepped for surgery, finding a vein and successfully placing an IV is usually the most difficult task. I was blessed to have had two outstanding nurses in the pre-surgery room that placed my IV on their first attempt. It was a welcome gesture that reduced my stress level, immensely. Once I was wheeled into the operating room, everyone was in their gowns and masks and getting everything prepared for my surgery. I took a deep breath and began to feel anxious. One of the women in the room smiled at me and gave me a quick yet gentle rub on my head as she passed by. It felt like something a loved one would have done and just what I needed at that moment.

Nurses on way to surgery

My surgeon held my hand and told me that everything was going to be ok and that this second surgery would be the last one. I began to get emotional and he gave me a warm embrace and stayed by my side and continued to hold my hand until the anesthesiologists put me to sleep. Since my second surgery was two weeks after my first operation, I was comforted by all of the familiar faces. I can’t compliment the nurses enough. They were fantastic. Their genuine care and concern for my healing was uplifting in my time of need. I greatly appreciated all of the conversations shared with my nurses and the fun banter with everyone.

After I woke up from 2nd surgery

These are just a few snippets of my hospital stay to share the great impact that everyone had on my surgery experience. This thoughtfulness can apply outside of the healthcare world and in our normal lives. A simple gesture can go a long way. Although I would not sign up for the health trials that I am facing, I continue to find the bright spots, learn from each experience, thank those that play a big part in helping me along this journey, maintain my strong will to survive, and give it my all because I am lucky to be alive.

Hospital hallway

 

“Health is a continuum and we work with what we have and care for our bodies and minds and hearts as best we can and if we stay grateful for what we have rather than wallow in what is lost then we have won the battle.”
-Tenaya Wallace

“Trust you journey…even the detours and delays.”
Please share simple gestures that have made a big impact in your life.

20 Comments

  1. Betsy

    Hi-

    I admire your strength & courage. Knowing the battles and uncertainty of a life long chronic illness, your recent post- A Simple Gesture- reminds all of us to remember & see the light and remain positive. Even when life appears challenging, good things may appear in small gestures and to look out to see them each day.

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Betsy,
      Thank you for your kind words. I am so glad that you enjoyed this post and appreciate you sharing your words of wisdom.

      Reply
  2. adriana serritella

    YOU made a big impact in my LIFE! The ‘simple act of sharing your story’. The simple fact that I found your blog. Huge impact on me at a time that not too many people around me go around saying ‘I’M SO LUCKY TO BE ALIVE’. I am so happy to be alive, is one of the first thoughts I have when I open my eyes in the morning. I forward your blog to anyone I know going through a difficult medical crisis. It can only Inspire~

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Sweet Adriana,
      Well this message, just like the one on Facebook, gave me goosebumps. Your genuine support fuels my passion to keep writing and to keep sharing. Thank YOU! Your friendship, support and sharing my blog means SO much! xoxo

      Reply
  3. jackie

    amazing. that is so true!

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Jackie,
      Thank you sweet birthday sis! 🙂 xoxo

      Reply
  4. Tiffany Wishard

    Dear Valen,
    I must say, I am so pleased and honored to have met you. You have been such an inspiration to me and I enjoy reading your blogs. I have never met a patient like you who has been through so much, yet remains so positive and energetic in every way. Keep on, keeping on! It’s wonderful to read what a great experience you had at the hospital and it truly makes me remind myself, ‘this is why I’m a nurse!’. I hope your recovery is going well and that you will be traveling back to the west coast soon. Take care and keep in touch!
    Tiffany 🙂

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Dear Tiffany,
      It is so wonderful to hear from you. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and for your beautiful sentiments. It was such a delight to meet you. Your cheerful spirit and exceptional care was comforting during my recent hospital stay. I feel lucky to have crossed paths with you and to have been in your care. I am feeling much better after this second surgery than the first since I am not battling a spinal headache and spinal leak. I am still at mom and dad’s house and working on recovering and getting my strength back so that I can handle the cross country trip. Take good care and good luck and have fun with the planning of your upcoming wedding. I look forward to keeping in touch. Hugs!

      Reply
  5. MOHAMMED HEBARI

    GOOD HEALTH, I’M TRYING MY BEST TO CONVINCE MY MOM TO HAVE THIS SURGERY SINCE SHE IS SUFFERING DIALYSIS

    Reply
  6. Karen

    Dear Valen,

    I enjoyed watching your video, and reading your story. My PKD is on my dad’s side. My brother received his kidney from our cousin in 2005 @ the Mayo Clinic. Now it’s my turn. Yippee! I had surgery there in October to repair a brain aneurysm. Once I complete two more tests, they will be able to evaluate my junior high friend who has come forward as a potential donor. I know that God does not give us more than we can handle, so I must be pretty tough. 🙂
    Thanks for all you are doing. You are a shining star!

    Love and light,

    Karen

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Dear Karen,
      Thank you for your sweet words and sharing your family history. I’m glad that you and Adriana connected. I love your positivity and bright spirit. I hope you continue to stay strong and are able to receive the gift of life real soon. My kidney came from the mom of a friend I met in eight grade. Amazing how people we meet years ago wind up saving our lives. Please keep us posted on how you are doing. Wishing you all the best!

      Reply
      • Karen

        Valen,

        I appreciate your lovely reply. I also like what you said about trusting the delays and distractions. I find that there are many, so there must be a reason. Isn’t it funny how some of the experiences we don’t want or don’t understand end up teaching us something great, or providing fuel to our motivation? Some of them are so wacky that we can’t help but laugh at ourselves and the situation!
        Anywho, it’s a wild ride for sure. Thanks again for all you are doing, and for providing this venue.

        Big hugs,

        Karen

        Reply
  7. Adriana

    Hi Valen, you know I read ‘everything’ on your page and so I just read Karen’s post! She is right , you are a SHINING STAR. Also to Karen, I have it father side too, and had an aneurysm clipped 10 years ago. I’m happy to know you are OK! I had asked Valen at first if she knew anyone with PKD & ‘the Aneurysm’ experience. Now I found you through her blog. You stole my line 🙂 I love to say ‘God does not give us more than we can handle, so I must be pretty tough’. I use that a lot ! I think everyone of us should have a T-SHIRT with this printed on it~~

    Reply
  8. Karen

    Dear Adriana,

    Thank you for your kind post! You have been through more than words can express, and I am so happy that you took the time to write. I am trying to see this experience as a gift rather than a challenge. It does make you appreciate the little things! I have an amazing surgeon who will “follow me” for two years, so I will have brain imaging every six months. I hope to be a transformed human by then, with a kidney that likes it’s new home, and maybe even a flat tummy! :-). A girl can dream…

    Love and light,

    Karen

    Reply
    • adriana serritella

      Hi Karen, I agree with the way ‘you think’. I don’t know how this will sound ‘on paper’ (without meeting me and knowing how I speak from the heart one never knows how they sound on email!) The way I saw it at age 15, with a father who felt guilty about giving ‘this to me’…was ‘well, if I have limited time I am going to live my dreams’. I am very serious that this ‘disease’ had given me a ‘positive spin’ (and excuse) to travel the world. I am a ‘traveller’ in an obsessive way. People ask me ‘Are you not tire dof packing bags’ and my answer is ‘Life is short, what if next year ‘is the year my kidneys fail’. I seriously use it to my advantage and the truth is, ‘I don’t know life without all this’. I think it has inspired me to do ‘more’ and live more. I did this my entering the travel industry at age 22 and now it is about 20 years later and I am still alive and kickin. I know it’s ‘a matter of time’…and I see my PKD specialist twice a year but meanwhile, ‘we live’ and i think everything we go through can teach us ‘LIFE IS NOW’. This is my way of dealing with it. I realize there is no guarantee for the future but today I am alive! Valen simply addes HOPE to the ‘story’ of my life.

      Reply
      • Valen Keefer

        Dearest Adriana,
        Your last sentence touched me greatly. I so appreciate your support and thank you so much for sharing your story and connecting with Karen. Big hugs!

        Reply
    • adriana serritella

      Hi Karen, I agree with the way ‘you think’. I don’t know how this will sound ‘on paper’ (without meeting me and knowing how I speak from the heart one never knows how they sound on email!) The way I saw it at age 15, with a father who felt guilty about giving ‘this to me’…was ‘well, if I have limited time I am going to live my dreams’. I am very serious that this ‘disease’ had given me a ‘positive spin’ (and excuse) to travel the world. I am a ‘traveller’ in an obsessive way. People ask me ‘Are you not tire dof packing bags’ and my answer is ‘Life is short, what if next year ‘is the year my kidneys fail’. I seriously use it to my advantage and the truth is, ‘I don’t know life without all this’. I think it has inspired me to do ‘more’ and live more. I did this my entering the travel industry at age 22 and now it is about 20 years later and I am still alive and kickin. I know it’s ‘a matter of time’…and I see my PKD specialist twice a year but meanwhile, ‘we live’ and i think everything we go through can teach us ‘LIFE IS NOW’. This is my way of dealing with it. I realize there is no guarantee for the future but today I am alive! Valen simply adds HOPE to the ‘story’ of my life.

      Reply
      • Karen

        Adriana!

        AWESOME! Maybe someday I will call you up to help me plan out where to visit next! I will probably be ready for a change of scenery by the time my parts are in order. Ha! I am living in the moment, so who knows what exciting adventure is around the corner.

        Take care of you!

        Karen

        Reply
  9. Jade24

    I am a 24 year old female who life has changed. My mom has just been diagnosed at the tender age of 50 with kidney failure due to pkd genetically through her mothers side of the family. Your stories have touched me. This is the first positive website I have found online to try and stay positive and educate myself with wisdom and knowledge as we make are life changing decision. She has the option to do diayllis at home. I just don’t know what to do. She is not sickly with any pain but internally she is. Please someone help me. I need advice.

    Sincerly, Jade

    Reply
    • Valen Keefer

      Hi Jade,
      Thank you for reaching out and sharing your family story. I am sorry to hear of your mom’s diagnosis, but it sounds like she is lucky to have wonderful support from you. I’m thankful that our paths have crossed and that my blog has provided some positivity in your life. I did dialysis at a facility for several months before my transplant, and I think home dialysis sounds like a nice option to try and keep things as ‘normal’ as possible. With your mom being newly diagnosed, I know there is a lot of confusion and uncertainty that all of you are going through. The core items that have helped me over the past 20 years of battling PKD have been, the unyielding support from family and loved ones, my positive spirit, gaining as much knowledge as I can from my doctors in order to take the best care of myself and give myself and those around me the best quality of life, and always forging ahead with determination and strength. I know all of this is easier said than done some days, but taking it one day at a time is all we can do. The big picture always seems overwhelming. If we stop and think ok with the knowledge that I have today, what is in my control and what can I do to help myself and try to follow through with that. I hope my blog continues to provide some support to you as you and your mom embark on this new journey. She is lucky to have you. Wishing you and your mom all the best!

      Reply

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