The C2S blog draws on the arts, the social and biological sciences to explore the many meanings of health and "dis-ease." Designed to be a locus where patients, their families and professionals can meet on a level playing field, it is the natural off-shoot of the Cell 2 Soul Online Journal. We encourage the submission of ideas, essays, poems, stories, humor, and timely reviews relating to the humanities and health care.
ONE morning I was at a support group for patients who had survived a critical illness and their family members. It seems simple — a few doctors, a social worker, a psychiatrist, former patients and their husbands and wives, a conference room, pastries, coffee.
As many as one in three patients sick enough to require a ventilator might develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety and depression are equally common, if not more so. The name for the constellation of symptoms often experienced by survivors of critical illness — post-intensive care syndrome.
As I.C.U. doctors, we can learn from our patients and their families and they can learn from one another, simply by sitting in a room together and paying attention to what unfolds. [Holds true for all health care professionals]
Ranjana Srivastava has a memorable essay in the New England Journal of Medicine about listening to patients. Her piece, entitled “Nourishment” speaks to all of us in health care.
She writes that a patient, former pastor, told her “The gift of silent communion is the greatest gift you can give someone.” She learned that with some patients “instead of listening in order to reply, I [now] listen to understand, shielded temporarily from the pressure of performance.”
This reminded me of some lines Andre Dubus wrote in a short story that described how often people confessed their problems to him “and I listened and talked a lot and and never helped anyone at all. So now if someone comes to me I offer what I know I can give: the friendship of a listening face.”* Srivastava has some remarkably insights in her Perspective piece in the November 26, 2015 New England Journal of Medicine. It’s a keeper! Download Nourishment.Srivastava
*Andre Dubus, “We Don’t Live Here Anymore” appears in the collection “Separate Flights.”