One of my first patients in nursing school was non-verbal. S/P stroke, he was hooked up to machines providing and draining him of fluid, monitoring his heart, Oxygen, BP, those fun physical measurements. After his breakfast of mush I was doing my physical assessment. I’m a diligent student nurse. He opens his mouth to say something and it is only grunts and moans.
He can’t hold a pen to write down what he needs.
He can’t point to what he wants.
He can’t express to me what it is that I could do for him . . .
After picking up or pointing to 20 different things he begins to cry. Big crocodile tears. His pain, first in his desire, secondly, frustrated about not being able to express his desire, the tears grew.
Student RN Morgan goes to find the CNA on the floor or the Pt’s nurse.
Help this man. Help ease/remove his pain.
‘How many of you have pain?’
. . . This question was asked after a led primary class on Friday. (That this question is asked after Led I find humorous, Led is like running a marathon, first I laugh - defense mechanism 1) Hands rise up into the air, everyone’s hands. Physical pain, emotional pain. Life is suffering. Everyone is going through something. Everyone has some sort of pain.
My pain is more than theirs. . . (Defense mechanism 2 - rationalizing and comparing)
Your suffering is verbalized.
Perhaps the squeaky wheel gets addressed first? Perhaps their suffering is so great that they can’t or don’t know how to verbalize their pain?
If everyone has pain, can you have more compassion? Can you empathize greater? Do you recognize they may have pain and not speak of it?
I’m good at empathy, but not that good. I don’t recognize the pain and suffering of everyone I meet, sometimes I’m so hung up on my own pain. Sometimes, I’m working through my own inner demons, causing more pain to myself.
Sometimes, I can share about it. I can put it into words and express it. A blessing. I can express being lost, ungrounded, untethered, afraid, lazy, impatient, confused, insecure, loving, funny, confident, and virginal.
It does not make my pain any more real than someone else’s, than yours. If I think that way it only serves to separate me further from them, from my true-self, the inner self. That kind of thinking causes more pain. Why do that to myself?
My patient was crying when I left him.
The CNA comes in and checks to see what’s wrong. His tears have dried up, vanished into the pillowcase. He’s gruff with her, she is equally terse with him. End of communication. She puts a straw into his apple juice and sets it on his tray.
‘He’s fine’ she tells me.
She has 10 other patients. I hate hospitals.
(next tattoo idea: DNR across my chest, big letters)
We can measure the physical, the heart rate, O2 saturation, BP, fluid volume, lab values, etc. We can’t measure the subjective . . . Pain is subjective, one person’s pain and suffering and tolerance to it is different than mine, is different to the next person’s. But we do a great job at judging . . . ‘Look at how tough he is, that 5yr didn’t cry when getting his shots . . .That 12yr is worse than . . .’
Judge my pain. Judge my suffering. I have it. I have pain. I have seen death take patients, and friends. I have witnessed the mental sufferings of schizophrenia eat my best friends mind until he could take it no longer.
Judge all you want . . . I’m sad that you wish to drive the wedge and distance between us further, but you are not my battle. My battle, my struggle is my own. Ordinary humans strive to preserve their lives, their way of living. Extra-ordinary humans shake the dust.
Shake the dust.
Read this poem by Anis Mojgani (or watch the video on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PWrlOgrzHQ )
Shake the Dust
This is for the fat girls
This is for the little brothers
For the former prom queen
And for the milk crate ball players
This is for the school yard wimps
And the childhood bullies that tormented them
Shake the dust.
This is for the benches and the people sitting upon them.
This is for the bus drivers driving a million broken hymns
And for the men who have to hold down 3 jobs,
Simply to hold up their children.
For the nighttime schoolers
And for the midnight bike riders trying to fly
Shake the dust.
For the two year olds who cannot be understood
because they speak half English and half god
Shake the dust
For the girl whose brother is going crazy
For the gym class wall flower
And for the 12 year olds that are afraid of taking public showers
For the kid who's always late to class because he forgets the combination to his locker
For the girl who loves somebody else
Shake the dust.
This is for the hard men
Who want love, but know that it won't come
For the ones who are forgotten
For the ones whose amendments do not stand up for
For the ones who are told to speak only when they are spoken to
And then are never spoken to
Speak every time you stand
So that you do not forget yourself
Never let a moment go by that doesn't remind you
That your heart beats 100 000 times a day
And that there enough gallons of blood
To make everyone of you an ocean
Do not settle for letting these waves settle
And for the dust to collect in your veins.
This is for the celibate pedophile who keeps on struggling
For the poetry teachers
And for the people who go on vacations alone
For the sweat that drips of a Mick Jagger singing lips
And for the shaking skirt on Tina Turners shaking hips
And For the heavens, and for the hells through which Tina has lived
This is for the tired and the dreamers
And for those families that will never be like the Cleavers
With perfectly made dinners, and songs like Wally and the Beaver
This is for the bigots
This is for the sexists
This is for the killers
This one is for the big house jail sentenced cats becoming redeemers
And for the springtime, that somehow always shows up after every single winter
This is, This is for you.
Make sure that by the time the fisherman returns
You are gone
Because just like the days, I burn at both ends
And everytime I write, everytime I open my eyes
I am cutting out a part of myself
Just to give it to you.
So shake the dust and take me with you do
For none of this, has ever been for me
All that pushes and pulls
And pushes and pulls
Pushes for you
So grab the world by its clothes pins
And shake it out again, and again
And jump on top and take it for a spin
And when you hop off, shake it again
For this is yours
Make my words worth something
Make this not just another poem that I write
Make it like its heavy about us all
And walk into it, breathe it in
Let it crash through the halls of your arms
Like the millions of years, of millions of poets
Coursing like blood
Pumping and pushing, making you live
Shaking the dust
So when the world knocks at your front door
Clutch the knob tightly, and open on up
Run forward into its wide spread greeting arms
With your hands before you
Your fingertips trembling
Though they may be