Seeing the Unseen

05-16-2021Nurse's LetterShannon David, RN, NCSN

One evening, years ago, while working in the emergency room, a young physician did something that left a lasting impression on me. Things were moving along at the usual rapid pace when we were alerted to two patients from a serious motor vehicle accident, en route. For the next hour, many of the nurses and doctors worked to resuscitate and stabilize these patients. Meanwhile, people who had come to the ER for treatment of injuries and illnesses of a less acute nature, waited. This did not sit well with one patient.

She continued to voice her discontent and her escalating anger was unleashed on the physician, verbally, when he finally entered her exam room. The exhausted physician allowed the patient to scream at him and then he invited her to follow him down the hall to the doors of another room. Standing in front of the two trauma patients, who were connected to all sorts of monitors, with tubes and “lines”extending from all parts of their bodies, the physician said, “This is where I spent the past hour. I am sorry I couldn’t get to you.” Needless to say, the complaining patient was silenced by what she saw. Though the physician’s behavior was unorthodox, and some might say inappropriate, it serves as a reminder to me that all I know, at any given time, is what is going on in my room.

Over the past year we have lived through the trauma of this pandemic, together. Yet, each of us has had a completely different experience. Many had an absolute disruption of their work and family life; some experienced very little change. Many know people who have had COVID; some do not know anyone who tested positive. Many know people who have been only mildly sick; some may know people who were severely ill. Many know people who have died of COVID; some lost one or more family members. With the application of social distancing and absence of “getting together”, not only were we isolated from one another physically, but we became isolated from one another in an experiential sense, as well. Recall, a slogan of the early public health measures was, “Together, Apart”. That’s not really possible.

As we emerge from this pandemic, perhaps the greatest challenge will be to emerge from the “individualistic” isolation. That isolation of thought leads one to think that their experience is the universal experience and hinders empathy.  In the upcoming school year (2021-22), we will focus on being “Merciful” (ARMS - Schoolwide Learning Expectations). If we begin to practice extending mercy with one another, now, we can look forward to the next school year being one that brings the restoration of “normalcy” and allows us to experience all the things that make our community so unique, “together, together”!

May the eyes of our hearts be opened! Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, pray for us!