God tapped me lightly on the shoulder the other day, and I listened to what He said... Let me tell you a story.
I am a nurse, and I work in Interventional Radiology. Basically, I sedate patient for certain tests, like port insertions for chemo and dialysis. However, we also do procedures in the Radiology department that don't usually require sedation. This includes CT scan and Ultrasound.
There is a particular patient who requires sedation for a procedure that normally requires me to be there to watch, but no sedation. Most patients do just fine- in and out, fast. Amongst ourselves we grumbled "Why is A special? Why does A need sedation. Really ?!?" Oh, so easy for me to be judgemental.
A was coming in, and I didn't want to take care of her. Didn't want a princess. But, it was my turn. SIGH.
A comes in, we chat. She's actually pretty funny. But, I wonder, where is her driver? Oh, it's her teenaged son. In the waiting room. She is alone. I get her IV started.
She compliments me on my hair. She is bald, wearing a hat because her head gets cold. She told me that she wished the procedure, just this once, would do X and Y for her. Suddenly she began to cry.
I think the enormity of three long years of fighting, having no hair at the moment, of feeling crappy and short of breath, had gotten to her. I asked her if I could hug her. She said yes.
I leaned over the stretcher, moved my hair back, and hugged her. For some reason, I was very aware that our skin touched- our cheeks and necks touched. We shared a real, hard girlfriend hug. In that moment, the tap came and I got it. Really truly got it. My heart broke a little for her. My eyes teared up. I felt the depth of her loneliness, the unending exhaustion. The thought went through my head "When was the last time anyone had touched her?" Skin to skin. Soul to soul? She needed a hug, but she needed to be cared about at that moment too. I have the feeling that she is very alone in this fight.
I wondered- where are her girlfriends? Who is taking care of her, lifting her burden for a short time so she can breathe? I hoped that in the 45 seconds that we hugged that I gave her just a little of my energy. A little bit of soul. A little bit of heart. I pray for her almost every day. There are quite a few patients that I keep in my prayers.
I realized that I am in no position to be snarky about A's need for sedation. If she wants it, who cares? It make no difference to me. The comfort of my patients is my top priority, aside from safety. I want her to be safe and sound and taken care of during her time with me, and if that's what it takes, so be it. She needs it. She deserves it, as do all of my patients. That day, I needed her too. I needed the reminder that is it really easy to be judgemental, when underneath, everyone needs love and attention.
So, lesson learned. In a BIG way. Thanks, God, I needed that.