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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Treasured people

“We’re in the dark,” my fellow worker Jane told me on the phone. 

“Come again? What happened?” I asked her, becoming anxious.  

“There was a power outage and we are running on a generator.” 

“Oh my God!” I exclaimed. 

It was a stormy day. I was away from the nursing home at a seminar. During a break, I had called to the facility to check on pending issues. The bad news only increased my worries. 

“The administrator is here doing his best. The maintenance guy is working hard to find the problem,” Jane stated. 

A nursing home without electric power on a summer day means no hot water for showers, no ice, no cooking, no television, no computers, no copy machines, no faxes, and, worse, no air conditioning. 

“Jane, that’s critical!” I replied, shaking my head. 

The generator only provided power to a few areas of the halls, and supplied electricity to the emergency outlets, mainly for oxygen concentrators.  

I worried about the residents and how they were coping with something new and unexpected in their day.  

After the seminar I stopped by at the facility. It was still raining and misty outside. The once well lit halls were filled with shadows and it was muggy inside. I started my rounds. 

I glanced at my residents. They looked worn out, but they were calm, and patient. They were hopeful things would return to normal soon. In the meantime, they savored ice cream that was brought in. 

Mr. Stephens, one of the residents, appeared in good humor.  “We’re okay; we’ll do what we used to do back in the days when we didn’t have electricity,” he joked. It was a blessing that someone could put on a smile during these hours of crisis.  

I observed the staff. They looked sweaty and tired, but I didn’t hear one complaint. I looked at the administrator. He moved fast throughout the facility, checking every resident room and station, giving instructions, making phone calls.  

Then I glanced at the maintenance man, Mr B. He remainedas usual quite  serene despite he critical situation. He ran in and out of the building, checking the electric system, digging in the ground, running cables, plugging and unplugging machines. Although soaked and wet from the rain, he kept his focus at all times.  
Mr. B always amazed me with the way he handled the stress of his work.  

“You are always fixing problems,” I told Mr. B one day. “I don’t know how you hide the stress,” I observed.  

“I do get stressed!” he replied.  

“Really?” I grinned, doubting.  

“Of course! But I have to control myself. If I don’t control myself, how am I going to resolve the problems?”  

How clever! I mused, looking at Mr. B. 

I had previously learned that Mr. B, a tall man in his 50s, had served in the Army in his younger days. Although he rarely talked about his personal life, I surmised the discipline of the military trained him well and carried into his work ethic of tackling every problem with vigor.  

“Did you learn stress management in the Service?” I dared to ask.

“Definitely. If you don’t keep self-control, you can get killed. That’s how serious it is!” he asserted. 

Serious he was. Mr. B normally looked serious. Even when joking around. He was always polite and respectful. He kept busy, never wasting time, or slacking.  

“But Mr. B, you can’t tell me that you don’t feel anxious and nervous when you’re stressed!” I challenged him. 

“I do feel anxious and nervous,” he admitted. 

“So, how do you control those feelings?” 

“Breathing!” he pointed at his nose. “By knowing how to breathe.” 

Mr. B gave me a good lesson. Not only about the breathing technique to manage stress, but also by making me realize that everyone around uspeople that we may easily overlook have important jobs and lessons to teach us.  
The electric crisis was resolved after several hours successfully. No more darkness. No longer muggy. As the lights returned and brightened the whole place, and the cool air returned comfort to us all, I recognized that I was surrounded by many amazing people. Treasured people.  

How fortunate I am.


Roland D. Yeomans said...

Mr. B is a smart, wise man.

My best friend, Sandra, who's a former counselor like me, would often tell me in dark moments :

"It's just a problem to be solved, Roland. Maybe a perfect solution's not out there, but a pretty good one is. You're smart. And I'm smart-a__. How can we lose?"

And neither of us have so far. (Imagine Bette Midler with pepper and salt hair, and you have Sandra.)

Thanks for such an engaging blog, Roland

Amrita said...

Beautiful post Doris and it also made me smile.

You will ask why?

Because here in India we have a constant power shorage. Outages for 3 hours daily and on bad days extended putages ranging from 5 - 9 hours.

We really need stress management and Mr B 's breathing techniques. The breathing exercises are good. I tried something I read in a book.

I sent you an email.

Padraic Murray said...

Wonderful post.
Must now remove dog from keyboard as not recommended by Intel...
Have a great week!

MTJ said...

Hi Doris,

This post reminds me of those people I have often taken for granted and yet without them, my life would be far more difficult.

A martial arts instructor gave me some advice which I've never forgotten. He explained that during moments of stress my muscles will tense, making it difficult to properly execute physical movements. When muscles tense, a person will unconsciously tend to hold their breath; restricting the oxygen muscles require for optimum efficiency. The lack of oxygen increases the tension in muscles while reducing flexibility and range of motion. Breathing allows the muscles to remain flexible because you are relaxed.

Until that moment, I never realized that when I'm under (any kind of) stress, I need to consciously focus on breathing, to keep myself relaxed and capable of functioning at my best.

Thanks for sharing about Mr. B and the Treasured People; I do want to appreciate them so much more now.

Blessings and peace.


Just Be Real said...

Doris delightful post of encouragement and trust. My home is on the same grid as the hospitable next to me. So usually when the power goes off, we are the first to have it restored. Not always. Few years back we had no power for five days due to Hurricane Wilma.

Blessings to you dear one and thank you for your encouraging comments to me.

Just Be Real said...

Doris delightful post of encouragement and trust. My home is on the same grid as the hospitable next to me. So usually when the power goes off, we are the first to have it restored. Not always. Few years back we had no power for five days due to Hurricane Wilma.

Blessings to you dear one and thank you for your encouraging comments to me.

Diane said...

We take so much for granted. Good reminder! :O)

डा0 हेमंत कुमार ♠ Dr Hemant Kumar said...

Nice post Doris,
I Had read complete post and liked it---as Amrita had written in india power felyore is very common in residential areas.But espacially in hospital and nursing homes Ganeretor starts and work.
Actually i was surprised to read this--it is happaning in U.S.----?
But stress managments lesson is realy good.

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Delores,

Great blog! Of course, our work in India, Indonesia and so on, did teach us the life 'back to basics!' How spoiled we really are here in the USA where most of the time there is plenty of water, plenty of pressure (in the dry season in Indonesia there was NO water...!) plenty of power to run every convenient gadget man can think of.
Yet, those people who got less of the 'wealth' gadgets, handled power outages and NO water with a smile on their faces. They taught us SO MUCH. Again, it gave the inspiration to name my business: BacktoBasics...
We take things for granted here and yet more people on earth have to always make do with that what we lack during a power outage!

Sunny greetings from Georgia,


Alice in Wonderland said...

I really enjoyed reading this post, and breathing techniques really do work!
I took up yoga a few years ago, and it really helped me to relax and let go.
It must be terrible to have to live in those conditions, but thanks to Mr B, you all came through!

Big hugs!

Terri Tiffany said...

Alice mentioned Yoga and I recently bought a tape to try it because of what a 90-year-old man told me at the nursing home. It was the reason he didn't use a walker like others. It kept him fit. I also know it helps one breathe and then learn to relax.

The Words Crafter said...

I tend to get terribly anxious...I need to learn this technique. I read the Angel Dogs post and I can't hardly type for the tears in my eyes. With me, it's cats.

I'm glad people like you understand that an animal can be FAMILY.

Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to reading more of your blog.

Bless you for what you do!

Marguerite said...

Great post, Doris! I have been doing yoga for 20 years and it is very helpful for staying healthy, mentally, physically, and spiritually. And as Mr. B pointed out, the breathing exercises are very important, as well.

Marta Benicá said...

Oi, adorei seu blog, os posts são muito interessantes. Venha me conhecer também, será muito bem vinda. Bom fim de semana.

Unknown said...

I agree. Helping others in stressful situations , we need to stay calm to be of any help. It takes skill and good breathing works wonders too. Great job to all the volunteers!

JudyH329 said...

I like how you lead the first part of your story to Mr.B. I truly appreciate blogs that give credit to everyday people. Without us, everyday people, where would the world be. I'm new to reading your posts, and I like what I've read. Hope you have a great day.

Ann Best said...

Coming out of the darkness into the light. This is a thought-provoking situation. To know how to face the darkness without succumbing to fear.

I hope you had a good week, my friend.

Sr Crystal Mary Lindsey said...

Hello Doris, Thank you for sharing. We tend to forget how it used to be now that all is so much easier. I began working in a large Sydney hospital at seventeen. The windows were kept open for fresh air, there was no air conditioner or throw away bedpans....We were strictly taught that nursing was a discipline so we never displayed our feeling on the job. This has always remained with me. Many of the residents in your story may have actually felt a degree of anticipation with the change plus the joy of ice-cream... Hats off to the maintainance man, he kicked in on automatic pilot. Hugs to you.

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