Since my last posting I have come to understand that people become queasy at the thought of wounds, icky yellow drainage and invasive medical procedures. Because of that I will abandon my plans for this installment about the ins and outs of digestion.
I will not lie to you; I’m still thinking about that wound. No, not the gory details; most people do not appreciate the colors, smells and awesomeness of a full-thickness boo-boo. The wound healed, remember? We got over it, watched it get better, and all that remains is a scar for keepsake.
For someone who experiences acute sickness, the wounds can run deep. Illness is a life-changing and harrowing ordeal which alters virtually every aspect of life: routine, independence, outlook. All the things that we take for granted can be flipped in a very short period of time. And the providers of medical care are often too busy to notice the more hidden–and complicated–emotional wounds that form during this time.
Uncovering emotional wounds is a delicate task; you need to remove the covering, yet protect the sensitive flesh underneath. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat across from a patient and said, “This is really tough for you.” Those few words are magical because they are open-ended and exude empathy and caring, something which is often hard to notice in this day’s health care environment.
The good news is, you don’t need to be a psychologist to anticipate and encourage a patient through the emotional hurdles which accompany illness. By being present and making honest eye contact you have the ability to reveal the wound bed and allow it to begin to heal.