A Tale of Two Patients

This is an old story, but still worth sharing as it teaches us rare human quality. Author unknown.


Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.

His bed was next to the room’s only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.

The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pa ss the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.

As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.

One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.
Although the other man could not hear the band – he could see it in his mind’s eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days, weeks and months passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.

She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.

Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.
She said, ‘Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.’


There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.

It is what we do for the others that make our lives meaningful.


Thanks to Su Cheng Lim, a former colleague from Malaysia, for forwarding.(picture credit: columbiariverimages.com)


13 Responses to “A Tale of Two Patients”

  1. August 28, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Cristy Wong and Beybi Nalangan-Lasquety like this.


  2. 2 JEMSKI
    August 30, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    The blind patient may have lied that he could see all these nice settings, but I guess that made the other patient become more positive and hopeful in life. I’d rather do that too if that would give another person’s fighting spirit a chance.


  3. September 1, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    there’s nothing like spreading good words to comfort each other. and when we die, our good words live forever.


  4. 4 digitalcatharsis
    September 1, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Thanks JEMSKI and MARCUS, as always.


  5. 5 antoinette
    September 4, 2010 at 5:26 am

    Thanks for sharing. Good one.


  6. September 10, 2010 at 6:48 am

    A beautiful story. So glad you shared. Sometimes we forget how much our words and actions can affect others.


  7. 7 digitalcatharsis
    September 10, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Hi ANTOINETTE, thanks for dropping some notes!

    Hi HALIE, thanks for your insightful notes!


  8. June 20, 2011 at 7:45 am

    I’ve heard this story again… just could not remember where. But really its makes us inspired right…


  9. June 21, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    This is a very inspiring story… I was actually moved… thank you for posting it 🙂


  10. June 22, 2011 at 9:46 am

    i think when the man in the window has the capacity to see the world..all he has in life is all those wonderful things in the world..
    This is very inspring..sobrang na-touch ako..


  11. June 24, 2011 at 7:47 am

    It’s been so long since I read this story. Back then I was still in high school. I thought that the blind man has a beautiful heart, and he gave hope to the man who was in bedrest. It’s a rare quality indeed.


  12. June 27, 2011 at 5:38 am

    what a great story…………kakaiyak, kaka inspire.


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No one person can ever experience all that life has to offer. It is only through sharing - experiences, feelings, insights - that we can hope to grow beyond our own meager lifetime.

Nurses are tough people. But behind great nurses are inspirations to keep them doing what they need to do - TO CARE.

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Health posts here are the author's opinion and should not be taken as professional advice. It is still best to consult your physician. Posts in this site protect patient confidentiality, so if you have any concerns regarding any of the nursing posts, please send me a message and I will be happy to address them.

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