About six years ago I had a T.I.A., which resulted in me being taken to hospital in an ambulance with all the lights and sirens going off which was an extremely interesting experience. Since it was a minor event I recovered 99%. However the whole incident had some interesting consequences and observations which have, in part, motivated me to sit down and write this brief article.
The focus today is on dealing with “adults”- often in intensive Care Units. Sick young children are different in that they often lack the knowledge necessary to understand and/or deal properly with their problem and tend to trust implicitly in their parents. The best way of dealing with them is to provide them with all the love & emotional support they need and the certainty of a successful outcome.
Unfortunately, over the past few months I have had occasion to visit many friends and family members both in Intensive-Care Units in hospitals and at home recuperating from their medical intervention. While my experience recently has been in Spain, I have observed exactly the same behaviour is many other countries.
When in hospital as a patient, people generally become much more kinaesthetic (focussed on emotions, touch, taste and smell and their current physical status). This is based on their personal physical knowledge based on their own interpretation of how they feel within themselves, their actual situation in the hospital and also that of the possible / probable effects of their medical problem on family and friends. They know how they feel in their own body and form their own opinions about the current and possible future situations that might develop.
Many people attempt to “cheer up” the patient by talking about a possibly unreal future outcome which the patient knows or feels may be false. Often, the speaker is perceived as only providing them with false expectations which the patient might or might not believe – remember, it is their body which has by far the greatest influence on their emotions, touch, taste and smell. They are the only ones who know what is really happening with / to them from the inside. Everyone that I have spoken to has indicated dislike at the “Cheer up, you’ll soon be doing….” attitude.
The speaker would be better serving the patient by focussing on, and verbalizing about, actual observable progress – however minimal it might be – compared with the previous situation. This type of “priming” is useful for subconsciously directing the patient to focus on micro-improvements instead of only major ones. After all, major improvements usually occur after a series of minor ones. The patient would from then on subconsciously focus on the element that has improved. These types of comments will normally be received as “honest” and real which increases their validity and that of the speaker.
However, this does require a certain degree of Visual Acuity which requires the speaker to actually consciously focus on the improvements made by actually closely observing the patient. The speaker might notice a slight improvement in sensor-motor skills, changes in skin tone, muscle tension, posture, fluidity of gestures, or anything that can be identified as any improvement on the previous condition. This identification of progress is processed on the subconscious level by the patient as something that they might not have focussed on but, upon reflection, is something that they agree with (basically a nudge to change attentional focus from one area to another). This elegant shifting of attention from a less productive focus to a much more useful one is both helpful and motivational for the patient. When we help the patient realize for themselves that they are improving even though it might be slowly – they will feel better knowing that these micro.improvements are rel and that their body is responding properly to the treatment being given.
I hope this article has provided some interesting ideas for you.
All constructive feedback would be appreciated.
Madrid, Spain, March 2019.