I’ve been spending the majority of my days around sick people- I sell an Oncology product to hospitals and physicians, so I interface with sick people daily.
Most of my time is spent doing paperwork with the offices, cutting through bureaucracy, driving from clinic to clinic. But, a solid 20% of my time is patient interface.
I’ve done this for 10 years (with a recent gap) and I’ve been asked “Isn’t it depressing to be around patients in hospitals”
Ironically, it isn’t at all. In fact, it’s one of the most beautiful examples of humanity and vulnerability that I’ve ever seen.
So, while the nurses and doctors are hard at work-I’m there to learn and offer up any product information that’s appropriate.
And, I find myself making eye contact with the patient. If you notice, most medical personnel avoid prolonged eye contact: I’d imagine it would be pretty difficult to stare into someone’s eyes as you poke, prod, or cut them (and, you should probably be paying attention to the task at hand anyway!)
For me (as someone who stands quietly in the corner) I find myself in these really long, connected gazes with the patient- invariably right as the needle goes into the vein or the scalpel pierces the skin.
It’s in that moment that I see the pure humanity of the patient shining through. And, because I’m just a useless observer, I try and do the only thing I know how- breathe long and slow as if it’s the calmest place to be.
I used to think that I was offering something up by doing this: but soon realized what I was getting was much more.
After all, we human beings are fallible creatures. Instead of most animals who were built to protect the organs (on all fours-bony protected backs on top), we are built weak-all the mushy parts are right up front, exposed and open.
Maybe this is why we build things with our egos to protect ourselves: status, money, class-all of it is security to protect us.
But, in the OR, no one is spared. Stripped naked, wearing a paper gown, arse hanging out, makeup and jewelry removed-we are laid bare.
Surprisingly, children have the easiest time with this. I’ve seen bravery out of a 5 year old far greater than that of a former WWII pilot. They adapt better to being prodded and even hurt. Maybe the less time you have had to build these barriers, the softer the blow when they are removed?
Either way, I’m gifted to catch the gaze of someone when they are at their most vulnerable and raw-and it’s hard not to see the pure light shining through and know there is something beautiful and divine behind it.
Yoga means ‘union’ -the acknowledgement that the plight of humans is that we forget that we are both Divine and one with the Universe. Animals know it-children know it. But, with our huge egos built around us-we forget. Until the ego is stripped away.
It’s that shining moment of clarity and exposure that I get to witness and it shows me how we are all interconnected.
I can only stand in awe at how powerful that is.