I’ve been very quiet on here lately. It seems there is a bit of a writer’s block going on in how to write and share a story that isn’t
totally my own to tell. Now my part in it is certainly free for me to share but how does one do that and still respect the privacy of the other participants? I’ve written and tossed out a couple of drafts. I’ve written and shared with a close dear friend a third draft. She pointed out that it was very well written but that I was correct that it wasn’t my story to tell. Which brings me back to the beginning and the fact that the story wants to be told for many reasons.
It talks about the importance of human touch. Of how a connection with the hands can be calming and constructive. It also talks about the depths of friendship and how it brings out the best in one. At the bottom of this story the base is the level of trust that has been bestowed upon me by one of my twisted soul sisters. I have been her the “angel” (her word not mine because hey I’m anything but angelic) that puts the glue in her life on an as need basis. I’ve been the “voice” that has held her in the most severe moments of depression. Now I am the anchor for her as she faced an operation for cancer.
When severe anxiety meets a cancer diagnosis it throws a wide shadow. When a regular outing to the grocery store can cause untold stress facing an operation can seem insurmountable. I know of the absolute terror that facing a general anaesthetic causes her as I’ve seen it before. I was by her side when her hip needed to be replaced and used my touch and my tone to steady.
So this week I failed to follow proper social distancing but as you can read there were extenuating circumstances. There are times in life when you must be there for a friend; even amid the Covid 19 crisis. Her need for my hands, my voice and my physical presence far outweighed the social distancing rule and we sought to use the compassionate clause in the current hospital framework.
In a hospital about to be turned over to become the Covid 19 Pandemic center there was an eerie silence. The usual bustling day surgery unit was quiet as only a very small handful of patients were having surgery. Each of these patients was unaccompanied by a loved one; alone today in the fight against their disease. That in itself made me saddened and yet I was buoyed by the fact that at least each patient was getting the surgery that they needed now. The health region has worked hard to keep moving onward with cancer and urgent care surgeries to ensure that these patients don’t become collateral damage to the pandemic.
I have written quite a few pieces about the tempo and flow of the Operating Room; mostly when we were in our Haiti Mission. I could see and feel the team members ready and willing to do their job as we approached the door. The moment was upon us and I used absolutely ever last skill in my arsenal to ensure that the next few minutes remained manageable. I refused to let the terror overtake her and she drifted off to sleep quickly by the magic medicine of a skilled doctor. I made my exit after offering my most profuse thanks to the team for their dedication.
The recovery room staff were understanding of her anxiety. I was able to correctly interpret her body language and her few words and provide a bridge to help them understand why she was still so terrified. Once fully awake she was thankful to all that had helped her along the way and especially to me. The exception to the rule of social distancing for that one day for the touch was an instrumental part of keeping calm. This was one hurtle that will now be behind her as she goes onward in her cancer journey.
The story, for me doesn’t end there though. It makes me so profoundly grateful that I could make the system work so that I could be her support to decrease her anxiety. But it leaves me disheartened to think about Covid 19 patients around the world facing this incredibly difficult health threat alone. There are no visitors allowed in most hospitals right now. No one there to help hold a hand, lift the water cup or be a mental support as they struggle for their life.
It fills me with gratitude that health care providers will step in to fill that role alongside their other duties like medications, oxygen, monitoring and blood work. They will try to comfort patients while wearing their PPE (who would have ever guessed that people would now use this term casually). They will stay with the patient and do their upmost best under very trying circumstances like long shifts, personal risk and a daunting look at what lies ahead.
Which is why I am now, along with my other half, on quarantine for the next 14 days. There will be no grocery shopping, no excursions anywhere except down a deserted country road. I can not risk it. Should I have picked up the bug on our day hospital day it stops here. It isn’t going to be spread anywhere else. WE MUST ALL do our part to stop the spread and slow the curve down; so many lives hang in the balance.
Please stay home. Please stop the spread. Please flatten the curve. Please wash your hands. WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.