LETTER: The kindness of Alice Springs to a stranger


Sir – I recently fell for Alice Springs – literally. Happily walking down Todd Mall, distracted by the beckoning shops, I misjudged the gutter and after launching myself into the air, came to an unpleasant two-point landing on my head and hand.
For a moment I lay stunned with my bags and their contents scattered about.
This was the point at which I was first introduced to the kindness of Alice Springs’ strangers. Two young women who had witnessed my spectacularly inelegant performance rushed to my side, reassuring me, gathering my things and gently helping me up once I’d established that I wasn’t actually dead.
The only fatality was my dignity, however my head was still ringing from the almighty whack it had just suffered, and my hand was sending me some worrying signals.
The women were off-duty police officers who quickly shelved their immediate plans to drive me to the hospital and sit me in the emergency department.
There followed a constant stream of people who showed me, a Melbournite alone in your town, such kindness and consideration that I felt humbled by it all.
Your hospital was amazing. Each nurse, each doctor, radiologist, resident, registrar or surgeon was utterly efficient and thorough, but also friendly and solicitous.
This happy mix was exemplified by the young doctor who took charge of my case – her examination missed nothing and was carried out with compassion.
Somehow the orthopedic registrar managed to deliver the news that my wrist was fractured (my head was far too hard to crack), and would need surgery, so gently that I accepted the whole thing was equanimity; the orthopedic surgeon was at my cubicle within minutes and explained my situation in an unrushed manner.
Even the very senior physician who was no doubt taken from his busy schedule to administer an anaesthetic arm block, did so with welcome humour while he instructed a gathered group of doctors and nurses in the art of the procedure. As a former nurse, I know excellence when I see it and that’s what I got in your hospital. And kindness.
Possibly the greatest display of compassion shown to me that day came from a woman who had been in an adjacent cubicle with her very sick husband and who had heard that I was alone in town, was staying at a hotel and would return there by taxi after I was discharged.
It was a couple of hours later, after my wrist had been reset and was coming back to life, that she came looking for me.
This sweet stranger popped her head in and apologised for having overheard my situation, then offered to wait until I was ready, then drive me back to my hotel. No one had suggested it to her; I hadn’t looked for it – this offer came straight from her kind heart.
I left for home the following day, having been helped at every turn.
Despite my calamitous single day in “the Alice” I will never recall the pain when I think of the town. I will recall each person who helped this clumsy 60 year old to get through her minor ordeal; I will remember each of the faces, though sadly not most of the names, of the many individuals who carried me through it.
My overwhelming sense of Alice Springs will be that it is filled with kind strangers – you should be proud.
Di Websdale-Morrissey


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