She’s Had Her Medication

First published in 2016 on Future in Massage Magazine online

As I sat and massaged my client’s hands at the dining table I felt a pull behind me. The pull became very strong. Holding one of my client’s hands I slowly turned around. Gayle, the Chinese speaking resident sitting at the head of the table, was leaning forward and moaning and calling to me with her eyes. She wanted a witness for her pain.

Her eyes were intensely focused on me and now she was reaching out her hand. I responded and reached out one hand to her. She took my hand and leaned even more forward. I knew I was crossing professional boundaries.

I told my client I needed to be present for Gayle for just a moment. I let my client’s hand go and turned my body fully towards Gayle. Gayle moaned, looked deep into my eyes and continued to hold my out stretched hand. “I’m so sorry for your pain.” I said. Gayle responded with head nods. There was the passing of a moment .The touch seemed grounding and Gayle began to rest more comfortably in her chair.

In the next moment a staff member stepped up to the table and looked at me and said.” That’s not needed. She has had her morphine.” I looked up, said nothing and continued to hold Gayle’s hand. A nursing assistant at the other end of the table said, she’s right Gayle has had her medication she’ll be fine.”

I experience this concept over and over again. There seems to be a blanket belief that when one is on pain medication comforting isn’t necessary because the patient doesn’t feel discomfort.

After thirty five years at the bedside I can honestly say that there is always consciousness. My teaching to others is to always honor the consciousness. Honor the core being under the medication. Validate the person’s experience and hold that experience with the utmost compassion.

Touch is our original language. It is our birthright to bond; to connect. From my experience medication does not counteract the need to bond. In fact with the sometimes floaty out of body experience from some drugs, touch grounds and settles the body. Touch may be the anchor in a world that is turning round and round.

Many times medication interferes with the body’s ability to express discomfort but may not eliminate the discomfort.

In listening to many bodies with my fingertips I have the opportunity to hear the conversations that the body can no longer express through animation. I am the silent witness to these conversations.

This is an extremely compassionate and valuable offering at the bedside.

Always speak to the consciousness. There is pure consciousness in every cell in the body deserving dignity, respect and validation. We deserve to feel connected through all stages of our lives.

Blessings, Irene Smith