The Human Touch In Medicine

October 20, 2011

Body

The memory of that day remains vivid even today. My wife and I sat nervously in the waiting room, while our 2-month-old son underwent neurosurgery for craniosynostosis. It was the longest 4 hours of our lives, and impacted the way I'll practice medicine forever.

Although well informed about the diagnosis, treatments and outcomes, the lack of control was killing me. Our first child had always been with at least one of us — and never out of our sight. Now, at 2 months old, I had left him in the OR with complete strangers and unable to know what was happening second to second.

And then suddenly, the double doors opened and out came a bed.

There was a small being, asleep, with a swollen face, and a massive head dressing with a yellow ribbon. My wife instantly called out his name and knew it was our son. It was a long night in the ICU without much sleep or rest, but at least he was in our hands again. During the recovery, we came to find out that the nurses in OR placed ribbons on the little ones' head dressings to show the families that folks in the operating suite cared for them. In fact, most ribbons came as donations from former patients. That small symbol of human touch instantly added comfort and reassurance in an otherwise difficult time.

These days, he is a rambunctious 2-year-old running circles around me and teaching me new life lessons every day. I learned several important lessons that day: to cherish the honor of having a family's trust when caring for one of their loved ones, whether it be a mother or a fetus; to never forget the human touch that meant so much to my us that day; and to never take lightly a case, no matter how simple or complex.

Feel free to share your own "human touch" stories so that we all may benefit from them.

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