During my time being a patient, some diagnostic procedures have been far from ideal.

I write in my book about my horrific memory of having one of these to diagnose my arteriovenous malformation (AVM) called an angiogram –

“…fifty minutes later they wheeled me, exposed and vulnerable, back to my room. Nauseous from the long procedure and seeing stars, having been stripped of any form of comfort for the entire procedure, I was relieved to see my close family and friends waiting in my room…” (Reinventing Emma, p33)

So understandably, during my recent MRI scan, I was feeling anxious about having this test.

On this occasion though, after being wheeled down to the hospital basement, the Radiologist greeted me with a warm blanket and introduced himself. He went on to explain in a calm tone the entire diagnostic process. Furthermore, there were so many things in his manner that automatically calmed me.

He had obviously read my history saying things like –

“I see in your notes that you’ve had a few of these!” He said pointing at the enormous white MRI machine behind us.

“You have a gold weight in your right eyelid, don’t you?” He queried, circling his own gold wedding ring on his finger.

“Yes” I said nervously pointing to my right eyelid. I knew that gold is a conductor, so I was terrified of the procedure.

“Not too comforting I bet, but I’m wearing this gold ring and my wife would kill me if I removed it. So, I never take it off and it’s fine” He popped it back on his index finger, securing it.

It was incredible how his actions and reassuring words calmed me down so much.

Similarly, there are numerous times in my recovery where another’s actions and words have had such a profound effect on me.The neurosurgeon who shared the devastating news of my Arterior venous malformation or AVM that led to my stroke sat down at my bedside and explained everything clearly to me. I write about this in my book –

“… He put his hand on my right shoulder reassuringly and smiled compassionately saying, “We’ll chat about this with your parents, Emma. Don’t worry. You’re in good hands here…”.(Reinventing Emma, p.34)

Despite needing to be alone on that metal table throughout the procedure, he stood behind the glass and provided me with so much reassurance. His consistent chiming in, reminded me of his presence and that he wasn’t far away if something were to go wrong. I heard him at regular intervals saying “are you okay, Em?” or “Now you’ll hear banging for 3 minutes” to “we’re halfway there” – All of these small, yet powerful words, were so reassuring to me whilst having the scan done.

So, consider how you can really change the experience for another.

It may just be a blanket or a few words but tiny acts that make such a profound impact!