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Comfort and Goodness at HSC

May 6, 2019

Kim Pangman’s Story

Three times a week. Four hours each time. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

That’s how often I lie in a bed in HSC’s Dialysis Unit while a machine does the work my kidneys can no longer do. With dialysis, I feel good. Without dialysis, I’m in danger. I come here so the staff can save my life. I like to think I’m a positive person. I’m introspective, thoughtful, and I’m guided by my faith in God and by my Mom (Marion Pangman). Still, some days in dialysis are hard and it’s difficult to stay calm and positive.

I remember one day when I was lying in bed, feeling especially weak and vulnerable. A woman from the Spiritual Health team walked by and saw the fear, anxiety, and loneliness in my eyes. She sat beside me, gave me a sip of water, said very little, and held my hand until I calmed down. It was one of many moments of comfort and goodness I have seen and experienced at HSC over the years.

My HSC journey actually goes back quite a long way. As a child, I walked here regularly with my Mom to visit my brother Joe in “the rehab” as he recovered from a brain injury. In 2016, I got ill and HSC became an even bigger part of my life. I was seeing my doctor regularly because of my scleroderma, a chronic condition that hardens the skin and tissues. At one checkup, my doctor got really concerned about my spiking blood pressure. So, I went to a health centre where I passed out waiting for care. I was rushed to HSC.

I battled with failing health for months until my condition worsened to the point where I had to be admitted. I spent six months at HSC, including two weeks in a coma, as doctors and nurses worked to get my health under control. They were successful, dialysis keeps me going, and I am grateful.

My usual dialysis bed is beside the exit where nurses go in and out. For me, that means a lot of waves and smiles while my blood is getting filtered. Most call me by name, and that always lifts my spirits. I also have a special vantage point to see how hard the staff work to ensure patients are comfortable and cared for. I experience and witness thousands of interactions a year. Often there is good humour. At times there is stress. But there is always skill and a determination to help patients.

Aside from my faith, I am inspired by the writings of spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle. From his work I have learned that things are usually not automatically good or bad. Everything is maybe. Everything is about your circumstance and perspective. I try my best to choose and live by a perspective of grace, gratitude, and calm, and through that lens I see much good at HSC.

When I was a little girl walking with my Mom to visit Joe at the hospital, she had a special trick to get me to settle down if I started to act too silly. She would point to the hospitals giant smoke stacks and say: “Look over there! That is Santa’s workshop. If you don’t behave, you won’t get any gifts this year!”

As a toddler, I took that threat pretty seriously. I always settled down. And I always got my gifts. Today, as an adult, I am still getting gifts—gifts from HSC. The gift of good health care. The gift of compassion. The gift of perspective.

Today, I ask you to consider making a gift. Your support of HSC through the HSC Foundation helps the doctors and nurses do their jobs better and better all the time. Your gifts help the hospital acquire new equipment. Your gifts help keep the facility up to date. Your gifts help important research projects take flight.

When I am lying in bed in dialysis, I have a lot of time to think. Sometimes I think about how many thousands and thousands of people have been helped by HSC over the years. Today, I ask you to stop and think for a moment and think about that impact and be as grateful as I am.

Thank you for your support of the HSC Foundation!

Kim Pangman