Saturday, January 02, 2010

My Thoughts and Prayers

When someone is ill, people pray, send good thoughts, send cards and letters, visit, call, bring food. bring plants and flowers and other presents and volunteer to help any way they can. It makes a difference, of course, that support and help. But it isn't a cure. It's not that support might not help you get well. It's just that the support that truly might help is the diligent relative or caregiver managing the real problem. In the end, no one can save anyone. Not forever not from everything.

If you think inserting yourself in pre-op patient prep room to pray helps medically you are wrong. You are in the way. If you think bringing a plant, a green jello concoction and telling relatives that they don't know what they are doing vis-a-vis the patient's care is just the ticket to restore your friend to the healthier person you enjoyed...well you are wrong, too. You might give your friend a nice visit and some hope but you aren't saving the day.

Cards and letters are appreciated and sometimes give the person the spirit to fight on, but they're not a cure. I was surprised that my sister saved funny letters I sent to her while she was fighting to recover from hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes. They were fun and she liked them which pleased me, but it was therapists, the family close to her, the docs and her will that got her somewhere, that helped her recover to a certain point. I sent the letters because I was far away and helpless to help her.

And when people say "if there is anything at all I can do?" Yeah, most don't mean anything really. Particularly not the tough hands on patient care. Certainly when I say it I don't mean it. It's hard enough when you are the primary caregiver and can't avoid it.

Dad's last ditch fix appears to have failed after three weeks or so. We went to the emergency room for the second time in the new year today. I am tired of being asked to speculate on what is happening inside him, what his doctors think. Yes, it' moderately helpful having me around to recite his facts since reading a chart seems to be a lost art. So I may actually help him get better or at least get comfortable. My thoughts and prayers, though? My opinion is that they are at best placebos. Maybe yours are more effective. But really I don't think so.

Today I will write a sympathy card to someone who is grieving. It won't really help the grief process but it is the right thing to do. Just like all those cards, letters, prayers and good thoughts coming my dad's way. They are mostly the right thing to do. Except get out of the way and don't second guess the caregivers.

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