Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Hope


I worked for almost two decades with people paralysed by trauma and accident and during that time I never once heard the question
" Will I ever walk again?"
In my experience, most patients already know the answer to  that question but the reality, and its a truly massive reality, of the whole trauma thing has to be put so deeply behind every coping mechanism going that the conscious mind reminds me of that time  I found my feet standing on the shoreline of an icy lake. The painful total emersion is buffered by fearful tiny steps away from that frozen water.

I once had the privilege of watching the spinal injury consultant, Mr Ganapatiraju Ravichandran ( know to all as Just " Ravi") at his very best. During a ward round, where a gaggle of professionals , medics, physiotherapists , occupational therapists and nurses surrounded a patient in a bed, he caught my eye that the patient and his mother needed a one to one moment.
As the others moved off, I pulled the curtains around the bed, and Ravi, who was a tiny whippet of a man, stood quietly at the bedhead in silence. The patient was a man in his twenties who had broken his neck in a diving accident on holiday a month before  He had no movement or sensations below his nipple line and was single with his dark eyed mother who had sat at his bedside for the duration
They were exhausted and both looked at Ravi very carefully.
" Nothing has improved has it?" the man asked eventually, as his mother covered her mouth with a fist and Ravi paused giving the question the dignity of some thought.
"No it hasn't !" he said his eyes filling with tears.
It was the first time I had ever seen him emotional in the clinical situation.
I sort of held my breath
" Can we still hope?" the mother eventually asked, her face crumpled and grey and Ravi lifted his hand to where there was a thin chink in the curtain surrounding the bed which let the thinnest sliver of sunshine to catch on his brown hand.
He and they looked at the light for a moment
" Let's hope together" he said gently, and he sat down to talk

( click on link below)
https://www.nature.com/articles/sc200913

56 comments:

  1. I was watching a documentary last night with the delightful Miriam Margolyes and a moment in that reminded me of this one observed moment

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  2. My heart was greatly moved as I read your blog and then went on to read your link. What a truly spiritual person Ravi was, and what a sensitive soul you are to have recognised this. Vx

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    1. He could be a right one sometimes too

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  3. I read the link. It must have been so very valuable to work with him and learn from him. I cannot imagine what it must be like to come to terms with paralysis. -Jenn

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    1. He was very instinctive in his doctoring

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  4. My consultant is very pleasant, extremely professional and very well qualified - I have no complaints about the level of care at all - but I have to say that I have yet to discover any non-verbal communication skills in her. Just occasionally, a little of the human touch would be an enormous help.

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    1. I thought of you when i read that..i remember you sharing how important that human touch was

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  5. Sounds a great guy. That's a lovely story to remember him by.

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    1. He could be abit of a darft sod sometimes..he could be homophobic which i fould a challenge

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  6. Diplomacy is so important in medicine. I've met a few of the Trump variety.

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  7. My partner did the exact reverse. He was washing a patient and an emergency kicked-off else where. He swiftly made su re his patient was safe and dashed off tossing over his shoulder ‘ill finish you off later’. The bemused patient replied ‘I didn’t think 💭 was that bad’🤣. He never lived that one down.

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  8. Another beautiful story. And again- thank you.

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  9. Barbara Anne3:43 pm

    A lovely true story and testament to a listening heart. Yes, though perhaps as slender as a sunbeam, there is always hope.

    Hugs!

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  10. OMG
    reading that made me tear up.
    I don’t think I could ever work in the medical profession because I’d make a spectacle of myself too often.

    XoXo

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  11. This made my heart ache and gave me hope for mankind at a time when it can be hard to find the good over here in the US.

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    1. We all need some good news don't we?

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  12. He sounded like a good man. It is sad that he didn't get to enjoy a long retirement.

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    1. Yes he died very soon after.....as so many busy people do

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  13. Such a kind and good way to help that patient and his mother. When I looked at the link, it was so sad to see this good doctor had passed away so young and so shortly after beginning retirement.

    PipeTobacco

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    1. I have a great photo of him wearing , of all things a sombrero

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  14. The kind of man who makes one feel truly humble John.

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    1. I have quite a few entertaining stories about him.....quelled surprise!!!!

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  15. The world needs more compassion.

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  16. I understand that medical professionals so often have to maintain some distance or they would burn out from emotional pain, but it is profoundly helpful to the patient when they are able to be truly moved and compassionate.

    After my father's paralyzing stroke, he asked if he would walk again. That was the first day. After that, he STATED, I'll walk again. But he never did. Perhaps the difference between him and your patients was that he had a bit of cognitive trouble after the stroke as well. Whenever he talked about walking, I would tell him, "We can always hope. You never know what will happen." That was the only way I knew to keep hope alive for him.

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    1. Understood.....😞
      I never again saw him upset in any interaction with a patient or relative

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  17. What a truly good man. Thank you for telling us about him.

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    1. In the documentary I watched last night Miriam Margolyes used the verbal metaphor of the light through the curtain as a description of hope.....and it brought the memories flooding back

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  18. Oh that's Beautiful, what a compassion Soul he is, coupled with his knowledge, that's who you want in your corner during a catastrophic event you are trying to be on the Path to Wellness with. When The Man had his Traumatic Brain Injury everyone was so Negative and Hopeless about his prognosis and insisted on grim Vegetative Future for him. I did not Receive that and we Nursed him back at Home with no Help, the Grandkids and I, to where he's a walking talking Miracle, Hope brings endurance and tenacity. If someone doesn't know it can't be done they may be the very ones to actually do it! This Post just choked me up tho', there is not always a Happier Ending to every Story unfortunately.

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    1. 99%+ of our patients would never walk functionally again

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  19. Thanks for sharing this story hope is what keeps a lot of people going.

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  20. Oh that poor family.....can't imagine the emotional pain.
    Ravi had a gift.

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  21. There is always hope, just make sure it's tempered with reality.

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  22. Sometimes a glimmer of hope, is what keeps people going.

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  23. John,
    Thank you for sharing this with us. I read the link too. He sounds like he was a very special person and medical professional.

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  24. What a remarkable man.

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  25. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  26. The moment of realisation that you'll never walk again - or do all sorts of things you were used to doing - must be so awful and so traumatic I can't even imagine it.

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  27. Kindness....so needed in so many ways..x

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  28. I was confused about the reference to "the shoreline of an icy lake". What was that bit all about with the "fearful tiny steps"?

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  29. The lake was the realisation of the enormity of the disability

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  30. I expect you could write a book about positive stories of professional carers doing their job well, and a pamphlet of those who did not.

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  31. Two beautiful tributes to an obviously great human being.

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