A while back Dr. M described some of his Residency Adventures on his blog. If I recall correctly he was routinely selected to have end-of-life discussions with patients. This does not surprise me since Dr. M is able to deliver a combination of words of life and relevant medical advice. I know because he has been my friend since kindergarten, he is my brother in Christ, and he was one of my first visitors when I came home. During that visit I scolded him for not bringing Dr. S, his lovely wife, with him (they live in another state), and then laughed at him for being a doctor since my gut reaction is to think of him still as a Kindergartener. For some reason it’s not funny to me at all that S is a doctor. I have since apologized, but hey – when they visited me in Oregon Dr. M laughed for like 5 straight minutes when I told him I did finance. Oh well, it was pretty funny to me, too.
Anyway, Dr. M described bringing in his guitar to serenade some patients. I can just imagine him with his guitar strapped around his white coat, colleagues calling down the hall, Oy, guitar-boy – c’mere. We need you to do some real doctoring. (That’s not what they actually said – I’m just filling in my memory blanks.) But after he sang the song Arms of Love by Kutless no one had anything to say. I immediately put it on my iPod and passed that iPod along to D, my friend who was fighting cancer (in her early twenties) at the time. It was a great comfort to us both. PS. She recently passed her 5-year mark.
Many years ago I heard a message by Mrs. S – A’s Mommy, an English Professor who specializes in Holocaust research. She described how some little kids who were transported to safety refused to be comforted when they got off the train bc they were so traumatized by what they had just been through. Forgive me – I’ve no citation – just the memory of these poor children who were so shaken they didn’t recognize safety anymore.
Being able to recognize safety gives you the courage to do things you wouldn’t do otherwise. During my first outpatient PT session Dr. Intern (Dr. A6 Frankenstein’s summer charge) explained to me that they were putting me in the parallel bars bc I wouldn’t try anything if I didn’t feel safe. At first I was so far gone I was like, Umm…okay, but the bars aren’t really helping. This belt isn’t great, either. But I’ve learned to appreciate both.
When I saw Trainer D last week he made me perch on a bench with a very narrow stance to do some stuff. I was nervous and said, I have a gait belt in my purse…. in a hopeful tone. He just laughed, so I said, You think I’m kidding, but I’m not. I did not get to wear the belt with him, or when I saw Coach R later that week, either, when we did some stuff I’ve only ever done in Pool Therapy – not on land. But both assured me that they wouldn’t let me fall.
My PTs, Trainers et. al have all been taught to or instinctively say comforting things to me, e.g. I won’t let anything happen to you, etc. I’ve come to translate these kindly meant words as Chop chop – daylight’s burnin’. Hop to it bc I’m vouching for your safety.
During an introductory session I told Trainer D If I give you a hard time that means I’m scared.. By the time I got to Coach R I realized I’m just mouthier in general so I didn’t say anything about it. He mostly ignores me until I do what he says, anyway.
M37 also expected immediate conformity to her plan of care. On Day 1 of treatment she made me go up the stairs without holding on to anything. There was no debate – I just sensed that she was physically confident enough to pull this off, so I went along with it, and we did fine. Later in my Planet Rehab career we demonstrated appropriate stairwell guarding technique for her summer intern and I realized that I should be more impressed and less appalled at her level of expertise since she didn’t know me from Adam on that first day and yet she climbed the stairs with me anyway.
When I see new Providers I want to know if they’re able to create a safe environment. Even doctors who are not Rehab specialists know how to guard and give me transfer help if the exam table is a little higher or there’s a step. In general, I can tell from the way a person’s moving if he/she is trustworthy. That’s right, kids – I’m totally appraising you since two can play at this game!
On Throw out Thursday last week I found some notes from a radio message I heard by Beth Moore in 2005. It was about the Woman at the Well in John 4. The Lord Jesus and the woman have a frank talk during which it is revealed that she has had 5 husbands, and is now living with a man she’s not married to. Beth Moore pointed to this level of exposure and marveled that the lady did not feel threatened or accused. There was something about the way the Lord spoke to her that made her feel safe even when He verbally highlighted the lifestyle that had undoubtedly made her a social outsider. She had come to draw water during the hottest part of the day and He offered her a draught of living water instead. She knew she was safe and rejoiced to finally meet with a proposal that did not end in condemnation but in an actual solution to the hole in her heart that had ached in her for years.
As I go through this Recovery I know that aching feeling. It’s a different kind of ache, but I imagine that it’s a similarly gnawing pain. The risk is gone – nothing is growing in my head that shouldn’t be anymore – but the fact remains that something Really Bad happened once. Who’s to say that something really bad won’t happen again? I guess that’s why I’m so jumpy and why I think so much about safety and trust. But ultimately, the Arms of Love that allowed this to happen restored me back to life and a measure of health – and those Arms aren’t going anywhere. Now I’m living proof that the other side of a catastrophe can be great.