My friends who went into medicine have seen some spectacular miracles: from entirely unexpected deliveries of triplets to patients who’ve gone from having one month to live to leading full, happy lives for years!
Medical miracles, like this story of a mother’s touch reviving her newborn, never cease to amaze me — but then there are equally inspiring stories that have less to do with God and more to do with human nature.
When the going gets tough, folks show their true colors.
This story comes out of the heartland of America, from an emergency room that could be any small-town emergency room. The ER is a place that people usually only visit when something is very wrong. Doctors who work in the ER are conditioned to remain calm, but this incident shook one young doctor to the core.
The following story is written in the doctor’s words — and please be sure to SHARE if it touched your heart!
"It was a rainy night, and I was nearing the end of my shift when a nurse told me the lady in #4 needed immediate attention...
#4 isn’t a private room; it’s basically a curtained bed in the trauma unit. The most severe patients are never kept in this area, so I went toward the curtain with some resignation.
It was toward the end of my shift and I had told the nurses on duty to only come to me with urgent cases. Why was this brought to my attention? As I approached the curtain, I heard a woman crying.
A woman wearing a head scarf was crying on the cot. I immediately noticed that she appeared to be undergoing chemo and that she had a pet carrier on her lap.
I instinctively opened the door to the carrier, expecting the worst: A dog mauled by a wild animal, or a dog hit by a car. I’d heard about people bringing their pets to the ER when they couldn’t contact their vets before — and I was more than willing to help. (I would’ve been a veterinarian, but my mom wanted me to go to med school!)
Imagine my surprise when a happy puppy in seemingly perfect health popped out of the carrier.
'What seems to be the problem?' I quickly turned my attention back to the woman. Perhaps she was sick?
How foolish I was! She’d probably brought her dog along for comfort.
I silently chastised myself for ignoring the patient to treat the dog, but she too looked OK— if not a little tired and gray from her treatment.
‘I have cancer, and I haven’t been very careful with him and I fear Wally’s contracted it.’
Upon hearing his name, the pup wagged his tail. For a moment, I was speechless. I slowly put it together — she did want me to check Wally. She wanted me to see if he’d become sick from her cancer.
I couldn’t believe my patient was more concerned with her tiny puppy’s health than her own.
‘I’ve been cuddling him. Not a lot, but sometimes I can’t help it,’ she continued. ‘I never told my oncologist about Wally. It was selfish, but I was afraid he’d recommend that I give Wally away.’
'You don't need to!!' I exclaimed — excited that I could genuinely help. 'We have therapy dogs upstairs with patients all the time! You aren't contagious, and even if you were, you can't get your dog sick!'
I unearthed my phone and showed her photos of therapy dogs visiting long-term patients upstairs.
Wally’s tail began to wag faster and harder!
For some medical professionals, the notion that a sick human could make a puppy ill is laughable — but from her crying I knew that her concern was 100% genuine.
“Wally is going to be just fine.”
My patient’s eyes lit up, and her crying stopped almost immediately.
‘In fact,’ I smiled. ‘Puppy cuddles are recommended as part of your treatment.’
I checked in on her health after that to make sure I wasn't missing anything before the woman enthusiastically shook my hand and thanked me.
We wound up keeping in touch — her name is Lisa. She went on to enjoy a magical summer with her puppy, Wally. And what’s even better? A summer later, Lisa went on to enjoy another magical summer with her grown dog named Wally…and another.
Now Lisa is in good health, and she and Wally volunteer upstairs at my hospital with the other therapy dogs. Wally is a fine worker — he learned how to comfort humans from his mom, after all.
Turns out, it’s sometimes the smallest things we say as doctors that make the biggest difference.
OH! And I actually do believe that puppy cuddles are good for your health. I wasn’t just saying that.”
Please SHARE if you love this story of a doctor’s simple act of kindness!