Working as a chiropractic assistant, I deal with a lot of people in pain. Often.
People in pain just aren’t themselves. (Are you ever your best self when you’re sick or in pain?) They are often crabby, short tempered, angry and all sorts of other difficult emotions and sensations that make them sometimes, quite frankly, difficult to deal with. There is really a great person underneath all that they’re experiencing. If you have worked in a health field, you may know exactly what I am talking about. If you’ve never worked in a health field where you deal with the sick, the pained or those who have lost hope, I’m not sure you can fully understand the energy it takes and what a special environment it is.
I love what I do and wouldn’t trade helping people heal for anything in the world but, it is still a challenging environment at times. I’ve learned over the years that you just have to help people to the best of your ability and wait for their true personality to emerge once you’ve washed away their pain.
Today, we had a man who was in severe, acute pain. I would say distress. He could barely lie down or get on the table. Standing took him effort, held breath and visible struggle. It broke my heart to see him that way as he fought his insurance company and radiology clinic on the phone, just to get help. Although it was very busy, I did my best to tend to him as much as I could to make it easier for him.
I asked him many times, what else I could do for him. At one point, he asked if I could help him with his shoes since it hurt so much for him to bend down. I smiled as I tied his shoes and tried to joke around in an effort to make him more comfortable with the fact he just couldn’t do anything on his own. When I asked him if he needed anything else, his response made me stop. It made me pause and put down my other work. It made me come around my desk and into the waiting room next to him.
“I could really use some moral support.”
I couldn’t help but smile and tell him that I really had been there. It was how I found chiropractic in the first place, when my roommate came home to find me on the floor, unable to get up. I told him that it does get better even though it doesn’t feel like it. I told him that he certainly was in the right place with the right people that could help him. When he mentioned that I looked like I had full range of motion, I grinned and said, “Well Sir, I’ve been under chiropractic care since 2005 and it helps. It really does help.”
Later, he dropped something and sighed frustrated, maybe even dejectedly. Resigned. He called my name and when I went to help, he apologized and said how helpless he felt. How awful it was to feel like he couldn’t do anything on his own. I reassured him that this was what I was here for and I was happy to do it. Anything I could do, I was happy to do it.
It really was the truth. I loved helping him. I loved being able to at least get him to smile. These little interactions with him warmed my heart for the rest of the day. It made me feel so good about where I worked. It made me think about all the people that we’re helping on a daily basis. It also made me realize that not all pain is just physical. There is so much surrounding physical pain – emotional and mental trouble that comes along side it. We need to be more cautious, more aware. More intuitive. More loving.
This man returned to my office about a half an hour later, reaching over the counter to hand me the washroom key. He had gotten all the way back to his hotel, taken off his jacket and realized he still had the key. I laughed and shook my head, asking him why he came back all that way, in pain, just to bring us back the key.
He responded with, “It was the right thing to do.”