Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Nurse Kneels

Kneeling in front of an elderly home care patient earlier this week, I rested my chin on the handle of her walker as she spoke to me of her troubles and tribulations. I looked into her eyes, and I had a crystallizing moment that instantly reminded me of the reasons I like home care so much. Nurses, have you also experienced such moments in the course of your days?

Resting on that walker while kneeling on my patient's questionably clean carpet, I achieved a sense of deep momentary respite as I listened to her voice and empathized with her feelings, allowing the rest of the day to melt into the background noise of my mind.

In home care nursing, there is generally time to make a deeper connection, listen intently, and provide nursing care without the hubbub and distractions of colleagues, intercoms, and the needs of other patients. Visiting a patient in his or her own "castle", the home health nurse has the privileged opportunity of dropping into the patient's space, both literally and figuratively. This golden opportunity can be easily squandered with task-based nursing care, or it can be embraced if one allows the time and spaciousness for such embracing.

Yes, I could have pulled up a chair and sat across from my patient (which I actually did ten minutes after my arrival). However, the act of kneeling at the beginning of the visit---though unconscious and non-manipulative on my part---created a dynamic akin to the supplicant sitting at the feet of the Buddha. My patient bears no physical resemblance to said Buddha, but her deep nonagenarian wisdom shines through in her moments of great mental and emotional clarity, and her thoughtful reflections on her life and health were like pearls patiently awaiting harvest.

I don't make a practice of kneeling at every patient's feet, but this week's experience spoke to me, and I was moved to share it with you, dear Reader.

Have you had similar moments of beautiful clarity and connection? I would love to hear about them, and I encourage you to find these moments in your own life, and cherish them as the bountiful bouquets that they truly are.

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