Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Soft Skills"

She had, in that moment, lost her humanity. She lay sprawled face down on the floor in front of us, an absolutely gigantic 500+ lbs. The nursing home had called 911 after she had attempted to get out of bed, her swollen, lesion-covered legs giving way underneath her massive bulk.

As we stood around her, 2 medics, 6 firefighters and several nurses, I realized that we were discussing how to move her like she was an inanimate object. I was embarrassed and ashamed by the fact that none of us had introduced ourselves or explained what we were doing, we were treating her just an object that we needed to move. I knelt down beside her head and with my hand on her shoulder, introduced myself and my partner, and explained to her what we were going to do to get her back into bed. Her muffled sobbing stopped and she apologized for trying to get out of bed when she knew she shouldn't have.

Now, it certainly wasn't an easy lift, as she was extremely heavy, covered in oozing sores and presented a truly unique odour, but I was able to sleep easily that morning by knowing that I may have made the situation slightly more bearable for her simply by acknowledging her humanity. Not a super-exciting paramedic skill they teach in school, but something we should never forget to do.

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