Ed Shaul – Ed the Sock

Having worked at hospitals as a social worker for many years, there are many cases that stay with me for various reasons. One of them in particular is still vivid in my memory after close to 20 years because of an outside assistance I received from in helping a patient.

At the time I was assigned to a neuro-intensive care unit in a downtown hospital. A patient was admitted to the unit paralyzed from the neck down and respirator-dependent. She was conscious and aware of her surroundings and was competent to make her own personal care decisions.

However, she was not receptive to treatments offered to her and seemed destined to remain in her physical state even though there was some room for improvement. All the staff involved in her care seemed to be making little progress with her. Her family did not get anywhere either.

The patient only wished to stay in bed and watch television. One of the programs she watched was “Ed the Sock”. It turned out that she was a huge fan of the program. So, one day I asked her if she was interested in meeting “Ed the Sock” and she answered with enthusiastic yes – her eyes lit up.

I phoned the television station and was able to speak to Mr. Steven Kerzner, the man behind “Ed the Sock”. I explained to him about the situation and, to my delight, he was prepared to assist in any way possible. The neuro-intensive care was receptive after discussions with the patient, hospital staff and Mr. Kerzner.

The day the visit took place, I briefed Mr. Kerzner surrounding the circumstances that brought the patient to the hospital. We were able to arrange the meeting in the unit with a fair degree of privacy.

“Ed the Sock” talked to the patient about a parallel between him and her in that he too was dependent on others for him to function. He spent about half an hour with the patient and performed an amazing intervention in having the patient to agree to have her picture taken with him.

Mr. Kerzner sent a signed picture of the visit to the patient and it was the first time she was willing to take a look at herself since her accident. She had been hesitant even to see herself in a mirror until then.

The patient continued to watch television but also became receptive to treatments. She was eventually transferred to a respiratory-rehabilitation hospital with the ultimate goal of being discharged to her home town where she lived before the accident.


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