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moments of intimacy

The poet Peter Levitt spoke at our spiritual care conference recently. He remarked on the contribution hospice workers make in facilitating moments of intimacy. Today I noticed an example of this intimacy, probably one in a hundred. turning1Around 3 pm a call bell rang and I noticed a nurse gesturing from a patient’s room. Being the one nearest, I noticed a man, lying on his bed in apparent discomfort, arms and legs contorted every which way, covers flung aside, nightgown riding high on his body, face in a grimace, breathing laboured.

Please help me reposition Mr. O. We carefully rolled him first one way, then another, in order to slide a strong pad under his frail body which, once in place, enabled us to cradle and  move him into a more comfortable position. As we did all this, my face came within centimetres of his. I noticed strong features, his expression signalling distress, perhaps fear. With my lips close to his ear, I spoke calm words of reassurance.

Once he was in position, while nurse checked his catheter and adjusted blanket and pillows, I placed the flat of my right hand on his chest. Feel my hand, breathe out, slowly, I probably said. With hand, words, and my own breath I wished him to be at ease, assuring him of our presence in this moment of utter helplessness. You’re not alone!

gold-coinsA little later we sat across a table making notes in the man’s chart and my nurse friend thanked me for assisting her. Thank me? It was I who was grateful. [And to think that nurses do this kind of work day after day, for 12 hours at a stretch. May they be blessed … and paid in gold coins.]

2 responses »

  1. You are so right, Peter, that nurses are never paid enough for the wonderful job they carry out. My mother is presently in hospital and I watch how the nurses are constantly moving, washing, and caring for the patients….and many times they are cleaning smelly bodily movements, or washing very private parts of the body, all as part of their daily work, and many with a smile on their face.

  2. lovely to witness
    your spring
    in to the flower

    From the smolder of past life
    swell your
    petals of
    love and appreciation
    gratitude and happiness

    Heart is full
    thank you for inviting me


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