The hearts behind the masks

05.04.2020

I had a small procedure in hospital last week. It was a procedure that I had never experienced before and I was very scared. I had put it off three weeks prior because I couldn’t stand the thought of it. I was worried, scared, had sweaty cold hands, my heart was racing… I couldn’t stomach it. I had to pull out.

Unfortunately the problem didn’t go away so I had to go into hospital again. Here I was, waiting for the procedure to commence and I started trembling again, my physical reactions all the same. Breathe, breathe, breathe... This time, I had a crowd of medical professional women around me giving me support. My head was spinning and I used the advice I like to give to others. Say what you feel! Such an easy thing to tell others - puh! It took me some moments before I dared to say, right let’s go on one, two, three... “Look Doctor, I am scared of this procedure, can you help me?” I was hoping to hear her say she was going to get me some Panadol or other mind calming chemical, maybe even a complete anesthetic to knock me out for the rest of the day. No, she didn’t. She said the words that stayed with me throughout the unknown procedure: “I am here with you and I will make sure you are ok.” She looked into my eyes and confirmed her care by putting her hand on my arm.

The empathy and care of a doctor who’s probably done this a million times shot through my skin and whole body. Was it the words, was it the touch, was it the eyes? From here I felt the full support of the amazing medical team of Pulmonology at AKH Vienna, talking me through the procedure, calming me when necessary and literally holding my hand. It wasn’t their first time of course but it was mine. They appreciated exactly that fact, that I was scared of an unknown procedure. This is what I needed, not only the medical professionalism of the actual puncture. It was the emotional guidance and support, the feeling of working together as a team, mind, body and spirit. It was a great example of being in the moment, connecting and giving support. Thank you pulmonology at AKH, you are doing amazing work.

Now, a little thing to take away from this. We have all been experiencing some “first times” the last weeks going through coronavirus times, haven't we. We are maneuvering our ways through it, feeling sometimes fear of the unknown future. Let's give each other some reassurance, some "we can do" this isolation phase, this worry about catching the virus or not, this home schooling next to working from home and this support of loved ones in hospital. We may not know this coronavirus very well but we can deal with fear, uncertainty and vulnerability. Stay open, express your true feelings as shameful or scary as they might be. You might be surprised what support can come back to you.

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