A Muse about Hands

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I was standing in line at the store the other day,
Waiting for the person in front of me who was buying Valentines candy that
was half off
(what on earth was she going to do with all of that chocolate for the next year?)
I was sick of looking at the tabloid covers
So I started to notice hands.
I have always been fascinated by people’s hands. Maybe because I am a nurse, I notice hands more than the average person.
I remember in nursing school one of my instructors saying that we would start noticing people’s hands in line at the grocery store.
She was right.
Looking at hands gives me clues into a person’s life. I don’t know if I am always right, but I enjoy imagining what a person does in their everyday life when I look at their hands.
The woman buying all of that candy had capable looking hands with what looked like
green paint speckles on the backs of her knuckles.
No rings on her fingers.
Maybe she paints.

The woman who was checking out the Valentine candy shopper had somewhat
stocky hands.
Her fingers were short and round.
Her nails were different shades of color.
The colors on her right hand did not match the colors on her left.
They were polished in bright colors, and no two colors were the same.
I imagine that those different colors tell of a need to try new things, be brave and be bold. So she painted them different colors.
I can tell that the paint is not a professional job, so I imagine that she is frugal and feels that she can certainly do her nails herself without paying someone else to do it.
She also has about five different rings on various fingers. I think she likes to feel glamorous. In keeping with her assumed frugality it appears that those rings are cheap imitations of real rings. There might be one real ring in the bunch, probably a significant gift at one time or another.
My mind began to wander about other hands that I have seen.

The guy at the cell phone store has long thin fingers on his hands.
His nails are very well kept.
His hands are almost ladylike in their delicacy.
I imagine that he spends a lot of time on his computer.
Maybe he even plays the piano.
He’s probably very concerned about hygiene and neatness, since his nails are so clean.
And he probably spends very little time doing manual labor.
I have seen thick and calloused hands on men in line at the store.
They are usually holding a carton of milk and a dozen eggs.
They have dirt around their nails.
Their hands are clean, like they have scrubbed them, but some dirt remains.
Their fingers are cracked and stained.

Those types of hands tell me of a hard working manual laborer.
Someone who is concerned about not appearing dirty, yet lots of soap and water cannot wash out years of hard work.

Those kinds of hands are on men like badges of honor, for all they have done their whole life was with those hands.
I imagine that those hands can chop wood, milk cows, build homes and fix cars.
And can only scramble eggs.

When I am in the hospital I see all kinds of hands.
I see diabetic hands, with discolored yellow fingernails.
I see heart failure hands, with clubbed fingernails and swollen fingers.
I see bruised hands where IVs and bloods draws were attempted and failed.
I see bandaged hands, where fingers were broken or hurt.
I see deformed hands and fingers, from arthritis, old age, and accidents.
I see beautiful, perfect baby hands, with little fingernails and tiny fingers.
I see shaking hands, from Parkinson’s or other tremor causing conditions.
I see hands clenched in anger at a situation.
I see hands swinging and agitated due to delirium or confusion.
I see (and feel) cold hands.
I see (and feel) warm hands.
I see people with one hand.
I see people missing fingers on their hands.
I see hands with good veins, and hands with bad veins.
I see hands outstretched just wanting someone to hold them for a little while.
I also see nurses’ hands.
And I know that I am biased, but I think that nurses have some of the most caring and capable hands in the world.
But every hand has a story.
And every hand has done something amazing.
And every hand is so unique it takes my breath away
(think of those individual fingerprints on each hand)
And when I look at my own hands I am reminded of this quote:

“I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess.”  Martin Luther

And of the most Amazing Hands I have ever known:

 Then said He [Jesus to Thomas, “Reach hither thy finger and behold My hands… and be not faithless, but believing.” John 20:27

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And I am thankful for the reminder of hands.

So next time you see someone, take a look at their hands. You don’t even have to be a nurse to observe hands.
And have fun imagining what they do every day.
What else are you going to do while waiting in line?

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That’s One Way To Look At It

Yelling Quietly

That's One Way To Look At It

This caught me off guard when I saw this today. It was one of those ah ha moments. I was like you know what, you’re right Mr. Picture full of wisdom. It’s a beautiful illustration of the highs and lows that we each go through. Without them what is there?

 

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Daily Prompt: Right to Health: Words From a Caregiver

 

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How do you decide

How to fix a crisis

A problem so large

With so many wounds?

How do you choose?

Who is to pay?

When solutions to pain and suffering

Ethically,

Should have no barrier such as cost.

But cost remains and so we debate.

How do you decide?

About the pain

Before the ambulance ride

And the ER visit

And the workup

Only to realize,

Dollars and dollars and dollars later

The pain is only heartburn

And not a heart attack?

We discharge you,

And wish you a nice life.

You don’t have insurance?

Oh well.

We will get the money somewhere.

At least you are still alive.

We

Pour drugs and perform tests

Into those who don’t care

And will go home

To abuse their bodies again

And then return.

We

pour drugs and perform tests

Into those who do care

Who care deeply

Who will go home

Do everything we said

And still return.

We provide because we must

We are obligated

Because all life has worth

We have to care for the sick,

Even those who don’t care about themselves.

To not care would be barbaric

But still someone has to pay.

We see them all

Every day

Those with insurance

Those without

Those that pay

And those that don’t

Those with government programs

Those with private.

None of the above

Can pay for it all

You come in bleeding

And we wrap you up

Give you drugs

Give you blood

Give you supplies

Being sick is expensive.

But we’ll get you better

No matter the cost.

All I can say is

Maybe someday we will find

How we can make

Care for all

Meet cost affordable.

I don’t even know if it’s possible.

But as long as there is healthcare

If you come to us sick

We will find bandages

We promise to help you

And somehow

We will try healing

A few wounds at a time.

We’ll try to avoid

Thinking of the cost

And when we discharge you

We will say

Have a wonderful life

And mean it.

Even if we know

We might see you again.

Daily Prompt: Right to Health

The Flu Vaccine and Me

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I resisted getting the flu shot as long as possible.
I have been healthy all winter while people all around me have been getting the flu. My family, my patients, my friends. I have cleaned up puke and diarrhea, taken temperatures, and obtained flu swabs for testing. Asked patients “Have you had the flu shot this season?” and encouraged them to get vaccinated if they hadn’t had the shot. I’ve even delivered ginger ale to my sick neighbors.
I haven’t even had a stomach-ache.
I have driven past pharmacies with “Get your flu shot here” flashing on their billboards.
I have smiled at the nurses I know in the local department store at booths vaccinating willing customers.
I still didn’t want the vaccine.
Truth is I avoided getting the vaccine like the plague.
 I am not an anti-vaccine zealot. In fact, I am a firm believer in almost all vaccines. I love vaccines. I find it fascinating to read about the polio vaccine, the chicken pox vaccine, and the vaccine against smallpox and measles. I find it amazing how these vaccines radically changed healthcare.
Each one of these vaccines has influenced history in dramatic ways.
For the better.
 I will never say that someone is a horrible person for not getting themselves or their children vaccinated. I may, however, question their judgment.
 I am a realist. For example, if you don’t vaccinate your kid against the whooping cough, it is you who are taking the risk. It’s not the kids that were vaccinated that are going to be at risk if whooping cough breaks out in your school district. It’s the kids who were not vaccinated. Your choice.
If everyone decided not to get vaccinated then I might have to get my soapbox about the benefits of vaccines.  But if only a few people here and there are going to avoid vaccines, then I can live with that. It won’t hurt the masses. Besides, one of those few people avoiding vaccines this year was me. It was my choice. My risk.
That was how I found myself, for several months, in the category of the non vaccinated and with no desire to be vaccinated.
I had read all of the literature on the flu vaccine.
I knew the risks and the benefits.
I knew I was in a high risk category.
I still talked myself out of getting it. I had a whole list of excuses.

“Everyone that’s testing positive for the flu has had the flu vaccine.

It didn’t do them any good.

Everyone that is getting the flu is over it in a few days anyway.

Who knows what the vaccine will do to me?

Why expose myself to that when I am perfectly healthy?”

And my personal favorite “Someone at the drug company is making a fortune from that vaccine” (which I am still not entirely convinced isn’t true)

I had a lot of good arguments.

But guess what? I have had the shot three times before.
It was those other times that were the problem. Those other times that made me come up with excuses.
Two out of those three times I got sick the day of or the week after I received the vaccine.
One time I vomited, the other time I was shaky with a fever for four days.
 I know that advocates of the vaccine say that isn’t possible. There are side effects, but it’s inactive. Weak. It can’t make you sick.
I am here to tell you that it made me sick. Worse than side effect sick.
And no, I am not allergic to eggs.
So, as the chances came around for me to get vaccinated this year, I kept declining them.
It was like I was playing dodge ball with the flu.
Would the flu get me or not? I would take my chances; take on the winter bravely, working in the healthcare field, unvaccinated.
I was going along my merry way, with no vaccine and no flu.
Then one day it happened.
The decree was made at work to either get the shot or wear a mask all season.
I wasn’t that angry. I understood.
Who knows how long the season will last?
I didn’t want to wear a mask for months. Good grief.
So I got the shot.
And I didn’t get sick.
In fact, I’m still fine.
Maybe getting sick those other years was purely coincidence.
Maybe not.
Either way I lined up like the masses, stuck my arm out there and got the shot right in the deltoid.
I had a red spot on my arm where the shot went in. I’m pretty sure my arm was sore and tingling for a few days, and I was convinced that my third toe on my left foot was numb.
Others at work who got the shot know for a fact that it was making their arm hair stand on end and that particular spot behind their right ear to itch. I think it even turned the cleaning lady’s hair green.
Me, I’m convinced that it made me hungry.
Every since I got it last week, all I have wanted to do is eat pasta and ice cream.
Maybe I will use that to convince myself next year that I don’t need the shot.
Who knows?
On the other hand, I like pasta and ice cream.
Maybe getting the shot wasn’t so bad, after all.

Thank You

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I wish

I thought

That I had the answers for you

But I can’t see the future,

The past

Or even the present

In multiple views.

How we came to be here

Together

You and I

I don’t know.

Here we are

You on the bed

Sick

Me standing above you

Whole.

I with the most

At this moment

You with the least

So it seems

So empty

A void I cannot fill

You cry

We hold hands

(It was all that I could do)

And then you sing

“I love you Lord and I lift my voice…”

And in this moment I realize

Awe 

Wonder

How something so confusing

Can be so clear

And I see….

We are both

Healed.