Sunday, February 17, 2008

Caretakers - Caretaker' s World: Humanity at Work

Your world is different. When you work in the home, you may receive no pay for your services. When you are caring for a sick relative or a close friend, your reward is their love, well-being, comfort, and appreciation for being there. You prefer the name caregiver. You give rather than take.

If you work in a place housing the terminally ill or a hospice filled with those with no hope for cure, you receive little money. But there is an off-setting benefit. You are part of a loving community of nurses, aides, patients, and grateful relatives – an extended family engaged in a common venture – to care for the helpless and the sick.

Your patients welcome a smile, a joke, an encouraging word, a spontaneous hug, a gentle tug to straighten the sheets, a quick clean up after an uncontrollable body release, a loving lift onto the bed, a guided push of the wheelchair.

You grow to know relatives and friends. They trudge in to visit daily or weekly, whenever they can. They are, along with other patients, part of your extended family. Your co-workers belong to the same human family. This is humanity at work. Together you smooth and soothe, even caress, the downward passage.

Your world calls for heavy doses of comfort, compassion, companionship, consolations, and condolences. You learn little kindnesses go a long way in this world of strive, struggle, decline, and death.

You don’t ask for much, just a little recognition for what you do so well in your special world.

As physicians, we monitor and treat these patients from afar. But you are there constantly, every day, in every way.

Fellow physicians, please join me in saluting these unsung and unheralded caregivers and caretakers. We could not do without them.

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