Have you ever heard the phrase, “pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again?”

How many times have you been picked up, dusted off and push-started to “go again?” I had such an experience with the University of Texas Medical Branch last week.

I say “with” because I will never again look at that water tower, those 45-plus buildings, free-standing clinics and parking lots and think of anything but The People who are UTMB.

At my age, pain can sometime come sweeping in without word or warning followed by inconvenience, multiple questions and insecurities; this is coming from a registered nurse of many and varied years of practice.

I had pain! Tremendous pain in both arms, stomach, neck and chest — all intense.

After trying all the home remedies — yes, even health care professionals do that — at 2 a.m., I finally pleaded for an ambulance. I needed the peal pros, the emergency team. The team came to Jamaica Beach in very short order, did the drill — IV, stretcher, pain scale, EKG — and we were rolling not a minute too soon, my body was telling me.

The wonder of it all began as we rolled through the doors of UTMB and the first soft, kind voice spoke, introduced himself and put an ID band on my arm. I was identified: I was Betty. What’s more, everyone I met wore a picture ID and in large letters stated “what” they did, RN, MD, PT, etc.

In moments, I was on my way to a warm room and from there more good people took over. I was helpless, you see. In my groggy state, I saw only equipment and smiling faces headed my way.

Each person was gentle as they carefully explained what they were doing. As my still undiagnosed problem was being pondered, I thought of our dear friend Dr. Gary Hankins, chief of obstetrics … what! OB at my age? He was there immediately and knew the exact person I needed — David Marshall, chief officer of Nursing Services and Patient Care.

This very kind man lowered himself to a position from which he could look directly into my eyes and asked what I needed and told me whatever worried me to call him, then he left his card.

I laugh now as I recuperate from a blood clot that occluded my kidney — yes, blood clots travel to strange places — but I was diagnosed the first day and treatment began.

Chief of Nephrology Dr. Robert Beach spent time reassuring me that I was on the road to recovery, not losing a kidney.

A very caring chaplain brought me comfort in prayer. I was checked over by literally every specialty team at UTMB except pediatrics and burns, thanks to our friend in OB.

I am surely the oldest patient he will visit during the remainder of his career, but if needed, he’ll go.

Each team of specialists were caring and encouraging. And my, those volunteers … all tasks are made simpler because of their presence. They help things happen and cheerfully oil the wheels.

Now, my message: Don’t ignore strange pain. Don’t try to fix something you don’t know the cause of. If it lasts an hour and the little comfort measures haven’t helped, go to the experts. That’s why they are there.  

To all of you I can’t name, I send my heartfelt thanks and tip my hat to UTMB, The People. Each of you take care; you are doing a big job.

Guest column

Betty Streckfuss is a part-time resident of Jamaica Beach. She is speaker pro tem with the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature and a retired registered nurse.

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