The competitive furiousness of education, training and working in healthcare sits in the most ironic and complex juxtaposition to the patient mindfulness needed to thrive within it. This tone competes daily in an offensive, stressful and contradictory way to any capacity needed to actually heal.
Our own patients. Our own patience.
Systems constructed to deliver services in efficient terms, to compile numbers of encounters for consumers, mindful only of the clock and the bottom line. Human beings working within these systems distilled into products to be launched in a framework of deliverable healthcare services. Analysis of workflows generate schematics to deconstruct an algorithm of effectiveness. Universally interpreting the data with the wrong outcome measures in mind.
In the most systematic and efficient way, we have devalued the greatest resources we have in the art of healing. The healing power of the individual person. Instead of formulaically minimizing this power, we must foster and encourage this innate capacity, inside and outside of the walls of medicine. The power of simply being emotionally available, showing up, and being patient in moments requiring human compassion.
In recovery, I learned to harness the powers of compassion and mindfulness. Taking time to dedicate in self-reflection about my patients and my own patience. Above all, this process (as well as having two young children) continues to teach me the value of holding my own space for personal emotional exploration. While, creating a space for honest human connection and holding the door open to the vast uncertainty of emotions strolling through the passageway. This emotional operation reveals the necessary value of providing safe spaces to process, in a way that promotes a holistic healing deeper than what we superficially implore.
For our patients. For our own patience.
A family admitted to the hospital for the 26th time in the last 4 months after their child endured 10 different brain surgeries. The value added in listening to their story for almost 2 hours on a late Tuesday afternoon, while holding a space for their worries, fears, concerns and questions. An amount of time defined only by the duration of the necessity of the wounds they filled with their voices.
A young father, losing his daughter to an illness beyond comprehension, in a foreign country, a foreign language, foreign customs and unknown medical ideals. Sitting in prayer, reflection, and in silence at the bedside without once checking the clock. Not in an attempt to explain the unexplainable. Simply to be in the presence of it, and feel with him in the moments where no words will ever find their justice.
A young man, in his early 20’s, dying from a rare and recurrent sarcoma, wishing to be back in the hospital to spend time with his friends (his medical care team) at the end of his life. Listening to his stories in the absence of any pressure or any rush. Holding a door open for his wishes and being emotionally available to share in moments of reflection about his hopes and dreams.
A single mother, forced into the contemplation of losing her only child after a complex heart surgery. The anticipatory grief too palpable too bear as she cycled between shock, denial and despair. The ability to be present, show up to hold vigil in patient preparation for a moment of deliverable need.
Years into my own recovery, I have learned the immeasurable value that resides here in these spaces. The outcome measure that is hardly ever defined or measured in any complex algorithm. The power of human connection measured in patience and presence. The power of empathically acknowledging that another human being is suffering in a way impossible to fully comprehend. And still I will sit here, be available and offer support in whatever ways I can.
Moments of varying scale happen all around us, in every day and within every encounter. Hold a door open to permit their safe passage. Show up with your presence in a way that promotes the greatest healing humanly possible. The human healing power of presence.
And of being patient.