The Taser's Edge


The Battle for Showing Up
September 19, 2008, 1:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

 


 
 

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When I arrive at the office, I log-in to Lotus Notes, check my office emails, roll my calls to my pager, check for patient referrals, check office emails, make sure my pager is on, then check patient referrals.  (Yes, the list does seem to repeat itself.)  Then I get out my pocket notebook to see who I saw on my last day, and write them out in a list, often arranging them in numerical order—4104, 4109, 4202, 4211, etc.  It is exceptionally easy for me to drag my feet on the way from Baker House to Duke North.  Sometimes I find myself hoping that I forgot to do something back in Baker House.

 

Did I really remember to check for patient referrals?  Yes.  Twice.

 

Did I check my mailbox and write my hours on the whiteboard in the office?  Keep walking.  You can come back later.

 

Earlier this week, as I was slowly following the walkway to Duke North, I had a thought that was funny to me even at the time—This must be what death row inmates feel: ‘Dead man walking.’  It was this humorous thought that prompted me to write about this subject this week.

 

As I have already mentioned in my one-on-one time, I feel like I have absolutely no problems once I am in the room.  Last week, when a patient’s wife, mourning and raging after her husband’s heart stopped—yes, he was revived—just days after what should have been an unremarkable hip replacement, turned to me and drilled me with her eyes as she waved me out of the room, I was able to at least ask if I could get her some water, and I told her that I could come back if she changed her mind.  External pressure I can apparently take.  Internal pressure?  That’s a different story, and I suppose it always has been for me.

 

After completing the walk to Duke North, I’ll take the stairs, not for the exercise, but because I can take them slowly.  On the way up, I debate going up to the sixth floor chapel so I can ‘center myself for my ministry of presence.’  Sometimes I actually do feel like I need the prayer, but most of the time I am being entrapped in more psychological warfare.

 

It is the series of barriers that take my energy, not usually the patient interaction.  The barriers: referrals, walking distances, nurses to talk to, precautions to take for the patient’s health, perusing the chart for longer than I need to, and then finally knocking on that door.  The funny thing is, even when they don’t ultimately want to see a chaplain, I still end up in the room.  It’s inevitable.  And then the next room and the next room, each with new barriers to be crossed.  The 2 minutes and 38 seconds I wasted on the way to the first door was the major battle.  Each time I make my way to the next knock is a further skirmish.  With each knock, I have shown up.  Showing up—and here I mean truly showing up and being in that room—is success.

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