Another nursing home visit to my former patient today, a cuddly stuffed moose in hand as a gift of comfort. She is sliding down that slippery slope of rapid deterioration and escalating illness, further driving home the fact that her family could no longer handle her care at home.
While I perched on the edge of her bed, she informed me that the doctors will be putting a tube into her stomach through a hole in her abdomen through which she can receive fluids, medications and food, now that the mass in her chest precludes almost all swallowing. I explained the procedure and how this "g-tube" will work. We talked about her fears, joked a little, and she of course asked about my wife, son, and dogs. She was so happy to hear that my son is visiting us this weekend, as if she herself would be the recipient of that visit.
The love between us and our mutual admiration and appreciation was palpable to me today. This 70-year-old woman and I share a soul connection that reaches beyond the clinical into a place of utter humanity and connectedness. There is that place where souls meet and other boundaries melt away, and although it can be rare in a provider-patient relationship, the realization that one has even briefly touched that potential is enough to overwhelm one's heart with an incomparable feast of emotional sustenance.