Friday, November 08, 2013

No need for hand cream today

Many of you may not know that I work as a doctor in palliative care, a specialty renowned for our hand holding..  I stumbled across this piece by Dr Derek Doyle today and it confirms for me how important physical contact is, not only in my role as doctor but also as a human being.  A visiting anaesthetist at work recently remarked on the number of hugs he saw us have on a daily basis: wouldn't it be great if I could write a prescription for physical contact - a hand held, a hug, a kiss?  The world would surely be a happier place...

"Forgive me if you have heard my story before. Old men tend to be anecdotal. 
It concerns an old lady newly admitted to a hospice where I worked. As I did with all patients, I asked how she thought I might be able to help her on what she knew was her final journey.
"What do you expect of me?” I asked.
“If you had asked me that a year or more ago I would have said ‘Use some of those letters after your name. They tell me you are clever, well trained and well travelled and that your peers have honoured you.' But things are different now! What I want from you in the time that is left is….what shall I call it? Hand care.”
“Do you mean manicure?” I asked.
"Oh dear me no! I mean that when you come to see me I may hold your hand to feel safe, and when you come to me and find me asleep you will still touch my hand, and when my time comes one of these lovely nurses or you will hold it as I slip away. You see, dear, there comes a time when a loving hand is more useful than all those letters after your name!"
Busy we certainly are but never too busy to give a moment’s hand care"

Dr Derek Doyle OBE is recognised worldwide for the contributions he has made to palliative care


Midlife Singlemum said...

When I was in hospital the single most comforting thing I remember was when the nurse gently stroked my arm one time when I was feeling a bit down. It was a tiny thing for her to do but I remember it even 6 years later above everything else.

h0peful mummy said...

human touch is so important in our every day lives - i think that there is nothing more restorative than a hug. i see my friends less and crave their touch more