(Sarah is a Renaissance woman who I am proud to know as both a friend and peer for my entire career. I am honored to share this with you, may it help you to look at your next patient's hand a little differently. ~ TAL)
I am 50 years old, imminently turning 51 - like a freight train barreling down the tracks with no way to stop.
For whatever reason, when I looked down at my hands tonight I didn't see MY hands, I saw those of a patient. I recognized my hands as being older, the pores a little larger, the skin a little less dewy. The veins a little more pronounced.
My hands are small, kid-sized really - I still wear my son's Hot Wheels stretchy gloves from when he was five.
My hands have been incredibly strong. They have saved lives.
They've done CPR and intubated patients. They have wrestled for fun, and for not SO much fun.
They have comforted and conversely punished; held an unruly patient down or truly pissed off toddler.
They have written LOVE NOTES. Instructions for dinner or tedious school papers.
I have pampered them with sparkly rings and pretty polish and blistered, splintered and broken them with rough work and rough play.
I have swaddled babies with them, fixed boo boo's with Band Aids. Brushed knotted, tangled hair with them, and carried sick children all night long.
They have dug holes in the garden and wrestled with tree branches and bushes that needed to be cut back. They have washed and budgeted and cleaned a lifetime of homes.
They have played Cat’s Cradle and here is the church and the steeple, look inside and see all the people.
They have sparred in Karate and scored points with a well-placed punch.
They have pointed in anger or BECKONED with affection.
One day I will need the assistance of a Paramedic or Nurse because I am sick or injured. I hope that when that time comes and a tourniquet is placed on my arm, engorging the veins below its stricture, that YOU, future health care provider, will hold my hand in yours AND for the briefest second before you do what you do, you will look at my small old hands and realize that THEY WERE REALLY STRONG HANDS and that they lived a very FULL life AND accomplished a great deal.
Hopefully you will look past today and see me for what I was and who really am.
~ Sarah Kate