I lay in a single bed in an Amsterdam hospital for 90 days. As I emerged from the swoon of the illness that had dropped me into the hands of the capable and compassionate staff at OLVG Hospital, I began dreaming of returning to my home in South Florida. “It’s the land of the palm trees,” I told my doctors and nurses, barely believing it myself. It seemed an awful long way away.
Strength crept back into my body and clarity took hold of my mind. I needed medical assistance less and less and therefore appreciated my nurses, physiotherapists, and other caregivers more and more. There must be a way of thanking them.
This being Holland, clogs were the default hospital staff shoewear. Even I was wearing a pair of faded pink Croc “shower shoes” left behind by a room mate.
Flashes of individuality peered out from under the white uniform in the form of colorful socks.
Aha! How about palm tree socks as a gift to my amazing supporters from their little American patient with the palm frond pajamas? I was pretty sure it would be a first.
Why a gift at all? Because I’d been a house guest for a very long time: 43 days in the ICU, and even longer on 7A. It’s not polite to arrive without a house gift for your host, but my sudden illness had caused me to simply drop into OLVG.
A parting gift was the only solution.
We flew back to Florida on the morning of July 29, and I became a patient of the University of Florida’s Shands Hospital later that same day thanks to the six-hour time difference. On August 8, I stepped out of Shands and resumed civilian life, albeit tethered to the medical support system. It was amazing to be back in the land of the palm trees, where this is the view out our picture window.
It took me a few weeks to begin the hunt for the perfect palm tree sock, but I found a winning combination for my athletic Dutch caregivers (who don’t count riding their bicycle to work as exercise!).
I ordered 45 pairs. Enough for the amazing ICU staff who’d saved my life; for the nurses and doctors on 7A who’d helped me recover; and for the physiotherapists, nutritionist, and tea ladies who’d given me strength. And one set for me. Socks are all the rage. You can have your own fun looking at https://www.kbellsocks.com
It took me another couple of weeks to figure out how to get these socks onto the feet of my dear friends. Hurricane Dorian approached, lingered, and departed without touching us while the socks sat in their box on the couch.
Finally, I sorted them into three sets (ICU, 7A, Physiotherapy) and headed to the post office, where a helpful clerk became a part of the story as she found the best packing box and told us about giving her grandmother’s caregivers an edible bouquet as a thank you. We laughed as I filled out the customs form: Item? Socks. Amount? 44. Off they went.
I emailed my physiotherapist and a very special nurse to tell them to be on the lookout, and then I waited.
Yesterday, barely a week later, I got this wonderful note and accompanying picture: