Akhil had been on the fence for some time about getting a feeding tube. I was encouraging him to get one now even though he doesn't need to use it simply because his breathing is compromised and if it continues to decline, having any sort of surgery would not be an option. I felt having the tube was simply giving him an option of whether or not to receive nutrition should he not be able to swallow at some point. On July 22 while at the ALS clinic, he agreed to have the procedure done. The staff there worked quickly to schedule a consultation with a surgeon but we were unable to get in for the consult until the end of August. Worried that with so much time to think, Akhil would change his mind, we tried to come up with a better plan. The week of July 29th, Akhil's doctor decided we could skip the consult and schedule the procedure directly so we got it on the calendar for the following week! No time for Akhil to change his mind!
Akhil was nervous about the procedure. He called my sister, Linda, who is a nurse by education on Thursday, August 1st. He told her he wished she lived next door to us because she would take good care of him (I guess he thought I wouldn't). Linda reassured him that he would be fine and they wrapped up their call. Linda didn't wait for Akhil to ask her to come, she just booked a flight to be with him. Friday she rearranged her work schedule as a hospital executive for the following week so she could be with Akhil Monday. Some inconvenience and a very expensive plane ticket later and she was here to comfort Akhil and put his mind at ease without him having to ask.
We so appreciate Linda hearing the "I need you" between the lines of conversation and taking the initiative to be there for Akhil. It is wonderful to have a person in your life that will look for ways to give and help without having to be asked. That is the mark of a true difference-maker.
A plane ride to help a friend may not be in your budget but there are probably other things you can do to make a difference in the life of a suffering friend. Often times one who is struggling simply needs to feel that they are not alone. A coffee date, a meal or a simple "I am thinking of you" note or phone call may be just what they need. If you notice their yard needs attention, don't wait to be asked, just offer to take care of it. Look around and see how you can help.
In our website about The Walk to Defeat ALS, we set a big fundraising goal because we are difference-making people. We want everyone to strive to be difference-makers, not just with a little ripple but by churning up a tidal wave! If you have a struggling friend, vow to be a difference-maker in their life. It will not only affect them but I guarantee it will make a difference in your life too.