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Fragile People

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After donating blood a friend of mine wrote in a google buzz, “Why are health professionals so rough??? I’m fragile people!”

Sadly, we often are rough.  We spend so much time patching people up that pretty soon we’re like factory workers putting bolts on a widget.  It’s a form of “compassion fatigue.”  We’re faced with so much sadness and suffering that we slowly, subconsciously, learn to hold our patients at a distance.  But somehow, some patients, some situations, find their ways deep into our hearts.

This weekend I was changing a dressing on a particularly nasty bed sore on a sweet young lady that is close to my age.  The sore was so nasty, and the patient so young that I couldn’t help but my let my heart go out to her and to feel pained for her situation.  I did my best to let her see and feel my empathy and made sure to talk to the next shift about a few things that could be done to make her more comfortable.

To respond to my friend’s comment, we health professionals are also fragile people, but we’ve wrapped our hearts away so that we can do our jobs professionally and efficiently.  But we’re grateful for comments like yours, and for patients like mine that remind us that we’re all fragile people.

4 responses »

  1. From this post, I gather that professionalism and efficiency define quality of care. In the patient’s eyes, high quality care includes “gentle” care. So as the song says… try a little tenderness… that’s what’s professional and efficient. (BTW, you frontline health professionals are awesome, even if you yank us around a bit!)

  2. I loved this post. I was wondering whether you would give me permission to quote you on my compassion fatigue blog?


    Françoise Mathieu, M.Ed., CCC. Compassion Fatigue Specialist

  3. Sweet post mana. Love looking at your bedpans 🙂

  4. I wonder if I could also have your permission to quote this blog post on my blog site and to use it as a “case” in my CF workshops? It reminds me of my nursing days and of the ongoing struggle to balance being open-hearted with patients and families and protecting our “fragile” selves. Thank you for your writing.

    Jan Spilman, MEd RCC


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