The Cycle of Care
I am a health care worker. I believe in the care that connects the care-giver to the care-receiver. In my work, I run the ultrasound machine in a small room of a large multi-doctor practice. In the dark, in the glow of the light from the fifteen-inch monitor, I practice my work with those who feel that what the images show could tear asunder the fabric of their lives. Most of the time I will pick up images that are normal, and if not normal, will not be life threatening or changing. Still……
In the dark and against my real nature, I ask strangers questions about themselves. “Are you from here?” “What do you do for a living?” “Retired?” “That must be the best way to live.” The answers are revealing and slowly I draw out (it comes out) the significance of each person’s life. An elderly Eastern European woman holds out her forearm for me to see a tattooed number. I know what it means. I want to hug her. I have encountered older couples with identical stories. Each has lost a life-long spouse and after a year or so of grieving they find each other and start anew. This makes my heart leap with the knowledge that life can go on even after a devastating loss. I have been invited to spend time on ranches with my patients, go fishing with them, visit their towns, and call on their places of business. I have been given sweet valentines from young children who know me as Patrick…like that starfish on television. I have done intimate procedures on many people who leave my room and offer a pat on my back or a handshake. They tell me that I made an uncomfortable situation tolerable. I am humbled by these words. I have been incredibly blessed by my encounters with all my patients. Sometimes I feel an overwhelming emotion that begins to lead to tears, but I force them back because that too is against my nature.
We care and we are cared for. Recently I lost a good deal of hearing in my left ear. I went to see a fine physician who is also a fine person. He explained to me that my hearing loss was due to a benign growth in my middle ear. This growth, if left untreated, would eventually grow large enough to erode the three small bones that are essential to hearing. As he calmly explained what the problem was, and how he was going to take care of it, I felt overwhelming emotions that almost lead to tears. I held them back.
The cycle is complete as it always is. We care and we are cared for. Life is nurtured by care. This I believe.
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