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Chronic Snarkopolist: Healing from the Inside Out

Post Published: 11 November 2010
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Category: chronic autoimmune conditions column, Chronic Snarkopolist, Column
This post currently has one response. Leave a comment

Hello my loves.  You’ve been so fabulous! You are my bright sparkly things!

Today I am reflecting more and more how the healthcare system is made up of humans attempting to heal humans. We too often forget our jobs in humanity. Our duties are to be human and loving with each other! The healthcare system is filled with healers who are patients and patients are often healers. Too often we label each other as difficult patients, monstrous doctors, assholes, jerks.  We live in such adversarial relationships with each other. Every process in the healthcare system -from receiving initial care, to being believed, to being understood, to continuing care are fraught with danger. Once we have established care, we worry about keeping it, financial problems, we have guilt about being sick, and yes, we damage each other with blame. We are all ultimately HUMAN.

Each piece of the healing/healthcare system struggles and blames each other along the way- pharmacists, nurses, lab techs, they struggle with each other in the system. Each one demands from the other, rarely praising or admiring the efforts of the other and forgetting the patient unless labeled “difficult” hence memorable.  And each part of the system creates roadblocks and often blames or has an ability to harm the patient unless checks and balances are in place.  Yet- each piece of this system also has great ideas for effective patient care. It is amazing the damage to the human psyche the healing machine has wreaked upon the healers and those in need of healing.

In fact, I have never known so damaged a people but some patients or some doctors. Both were the most broken and seemed to take a sort of joy in poking at the broken spots.  And both were the most ready to lash out rather than love or be loved.  Imagine how collectively this works when blown up into a larger system of hurting and tired people.

Yet – I’m reflecting now on the single most healing moment of my life. It only takes ONE such moment daily to truly mend us piece by piece.

A woman simply looked out of her car window and smiled at me. I still today believe she saved my life. She gave me courage and something to hold on to while I counted breaths. She got me to the doctors. I’m not sure if she was a healthcare practitioner or a mother or just on her way to work. I’m not sure if she even knew what she had done for me or if smiling was just her basic strategy in life. But I will never forget.

Another powerful urge inside me is to listen carefully to everyone’s pain and joy – to give each their due. With our heart and our presence we make it real.  And similarly I must listen to my own pain and joy and use my heart to love myself and allow it to be real.

As a chronically ill woman, I must allow my own love and humanity to begin the healing process, not just for me and other patients, but for every hand that touches me. Every little effort is for every doctor or nurse or healthcare worker, every pharmacist, physical therapist, and receptionist.  My own healing is for everyone who smiles at me and receives my smile. It is no small thing to mend a broken thing piece by piece and have gratitude in return when someone helps me heal with their time, their effort, their medicine, or their energy.

It may seem like a futile effort but every day I choose to LISTEN to other patients and their stories and UNDERSTAND THEM, believing that sharing stories HEALS US BOTH.  I also listen to other doctors and nurses and pharmacists and people in the hospital system, psychologists, medical researchers, researchers, and listen to how THEY feel. Often- deep within their voices I hear an echo of something powerful – I hear humanity, pain, FEELINGS. Usually it lashes out and blames the wrong person – but when I listen truly listen to them, I HEAR something bigger because underneath it I hear passion and pain and frustration for what they really want- a system that works better and healthy people and less pain.

The most healing man I ever met is a physician. He is not my doctor nor has he ever practiced medicine on me. In fact, he is also a gifted writer and knowing how he FEELS about medicine, people, humanity, and his own life helped me heal too. When we have bickered about life or when I have read his writing and looked into his heart – he has given me his pain or understanding about life. It has HEALED ME from my own woundedness about medicine. And that is a gift greater than any drug ever injected into my physical body.  It also gives me insight that more doctors and healers simple hide this part of themselves – possibly even from themselves because we are complex and contradictory beings.

I’m working to stop the blame whilst still engaging my boundaries and bullshit meters. Somewhere along the way everyone started out valiant and in hopes of helping people. (OK a few probably wanted big money- but most people in healthcare started out wanting to be champions because money is more easily made elsewhere with far shorter hours and without the pain or misery.) Some along the way have fallen short. Just as a few patients folded their cards and gave up and gave in and no longer help themselves. I still hold hope that we can all do better and see the best in each other even as fallible beautiful ridiculous lovable amazing humans.

And just as we do on DT- I choose to listen and write and hear stories. I choose to believe that every hand that touches me helps me heal. I choose likewise that every person I encounter I also heal and help. We are all in this together. I choose to believe the system is not so broken that we cannot fill in the cracks with gold and make it more valuable for ALL OF US who are involved. And if something does not work, I walk away and allow for someone else to fix that broken piece another day. Healers, after all, heal.

What do you think? Am I full of shit? Are we too broken as healers and patients?  Are healers sometimes patients and patients sometimes healers? How do we take care of each other?  How can we heal each other?  Are some people past helping?  Is there ever a time to give up? What have been the most healing influences or moments in YOUR life? Tell me! I must know!

I’ll see you next week same place same time! Kiss kiss!

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One Response to “Chronic Snarkopolist: Healing from the Inside Out”

  1. Amanda says:

    Melissa,

    I think as patients, we make the best healers. We “know” what others don’t. There are so many great doctors out there, but do they suffer from the conditions that they treat? I bet not many do… so they can’t really understand with the depth that we patients do. We can hear, listen, relate, understand and show compassion that can’t be found elsewhere.

    Amanda

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