November 2017: The Kindness of Strangers

tags: Specialized Transition Program/Neurorehabilitation Day Hospital

Dr. Lana Warren: I am Dr. Lana Warren from Kennedy Krieger Institute. Today I am joined by Dr. Joan Carney, a Special Educator and Director of our Day Rehabilitation Program.

A piece of paper with the word "Compassion" written across it in black

Dr. Joan Carney: You might not think it’s unusual that the patients that we treat at the Kennedy Krieger Institute are inspiring, but I like to tell the story of an inspiring parent. My story begins with a teacher who’s off for the summer and takes her two teenage children on a trip to visit family out of state. Her husband is at home working and he receives the phone call that we all dread. The family has been involved in a serious car accident. His wife has been killed and both of his children are injured. His teenage daughter has sustained a severe traumatic brain injury and he’s been told that she’ll never fully recover. They spend months in acute care and eventually come to the Kennedy Krieger Institute for inpatient rehabilitation. While he’s there, dad has to learn all of things he needs to do to care for his daughter in the months ahead. He learns to feed her with a tube. He learns to change her, to dress her. He learns how to manage all the new equipment that she’ll have to use for mobility.

Once she’s home, dad begins to bring her to our day hospital program where I work. He brings her every day, looking for glimmers of return of function in his daughter. Lots of parents are there every day sharing their stories with each other. They’re usually waiting to pick up their children at the end of the day and have an opportunity to introduce themselves and spend some time together. This dad comes to me with an envelope and he asked if I could give it to one of the other parents, I’ll just call her Mrs. Jones, and he asked that I not say who gave her the envelope.

Later in the day I find Mrs. Jones and give her the envelope and explained that it’s an anonymous and I’m not really sure what it is. In a few minutes later, Mrs. Jones comes to my door and tears are streaming down her face. Inside that envelope had been enough money to restore power to her home to turn back on the electricity for her family. This parent, this man going through his own troubles and overwhelmed by sorrow has extended his compassion to another family in a very practical way.

Dr. Lana Warren: Inspiring moments is produced for WYPR by Kennedy Krieger Institute. I am Dr. Lana Warren.