Most people send a thank-you card to show appreciation, but when you’re a singer-songwriter like Mike Haase, thanks is delivered via a song with heartfelt lyrics.
The Southport, North Carolina, resident wrote a song as a way to thank the team at Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Hospital at Little River, an affiliate of Encompass Health, for taking care of him during a recent stay.
Haase was admitted to the inpatient rehabilitation hospital a few weeks ago after a persistent blood infection left him unable to walk.
“When I got to the hospital, I was extremely weak,” Haase says. “They asked me what my goal was. I said I didn’t want to climb mountains, I just wanted to walk again. I’m a pretty active and outgoing kind of guy, so not being able to walk was emotional for me.”
Haase was up for the challenge. Rehabilitation would be just another bump in the road. He’s faced bigger challenges and overcome monumental obstacles since being diagnosed 16 years ago with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement. Now 68, he was 52 at the time of his diagnosis.
“Attitude is the absolute key,” Haase says. “What you say is not as important as how you lead by example.”
The retired Caterpillar product developer and marketing manager walked again on his first day at the hospital thanks to his determination and help from one of the hospital’s physical therapists.
“He got 43 steps out of me that first day,” says Haase. “When I made it to the other side, I started getting emotional. The next day, I did 304 steps. From there, they kept working me, and I kept going. The crew was very helpful and very professional. They helped me reach my goals.”
As he neared the end of his hospital stay, Haase says he got a jingle in his head. He picked up his guitar, which he had brought with him, and began crafting a song about his experience.
“Once I captured that jingle, I started writing out the lyrics,” says Haase, who has played music since 1966. “My songs are all about life, and there are stories behind all of them.”
In his thank-you song about Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Hospital, Haase wrote: “There are times in our life, you need a helping hand. There’s a place where you should go. They call it Tidelands.”
Face challenges with a positive attitude and be patient with yourself, Haase suggested in the piece, in which he wrote: “Now don’t be in a hurry. Just stop, enjoy your stay. [At Tidelands Health], they’ll care for you. On each and every day…They know just what to do…They’ll take good care of you.’’
Members of the medical staff were serenaded as they came in and out of Haase’s room while he wrote, sang and strummed on his guitar. His physician, Dr. Lisa Smaldone, medical director at Tidelands Health Rehabilitation Hospital, had encouraged Haase to write the piece and asked him to play it for her when he finished it.
“It was so important to him to make sure I listened to the words and truly received what the song says,” Dr. Smaldone says. “He wanted me to sing with him. I told him I’d be his harmony. So I sang a few lines. He really loved that and enjoyed it.”
Honoring his medical team
Honoring the staff with a musical performance was a unique kind of thank you that was extremely well-received by the hospital’s care team and support personnel, Dr. Smaldone says.
“Our staff truly takes a vested interest in the physical and emotional health of our patients, and this means so much to them to know they’re appreciated,” says Dr. Smaldone.
Haase says he was the one who felt honored, and if his small gesture inspires others, he was glad to have made an impact.
“It all comes back to attitude,” he says. “It’s all about realizing you’re not on this planet for a dress rehearsal. The pay is the same whether you’re having fun or not. So enjoy what you’re doing, have fun and make time for others.”