Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Patience (08/21/08)
TITLE: Wound Healing
By Emily Gibson
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In unthinking haste, I touched my arm against a hot grill while fixing a meal and went straight to the dinner table to serve a hungry family, rather than dousing my arm in cold water. The blister was almost immediate, and within two days, I had shaking chills and watched an advancing infection cover much of my forearm around the deep burn.
Knowing I should have sought treatment sooner, I slunk into the local emergency room last weekend, hoping to keep a low profile. As I sat hooked to the IV antibiotics, a long parade of nurses and doctors trooped in to see just what had brought me in, commiserating about my carelessness.
Thankfully, I have managed to stay out of the hospital, but it is taking daily diligence to work at getting this deep wound to heal. It will not happen quickly and I’m learning a lesson in patience. If I ever wondered the origin of the term “patient” for the person being treated for illness, I surely understand it better now.
The irony is that this burn wants to heal itself too quickly, and my body is not always very smart about how it goes about it. The wound covers with a scab of cellular debris and dried serous fluid which must be removed and debrided daily to allow the growth of healthy new skin along the edges and in little granulating islands of new pink tissue. This wound must be "reinjured" to the point of fresh bleeding in order to heal properly. Wound therapy is surely one of the most painstaking, but ultimately rewarding clinical tasks we do as healers, but there can be no “hurry” in the process for it to happen properly.
Sometimes our wounds aren’t visible like my recent burn but exist in places that can't readily be seen. They may be carefully hidden from view, festering and desperately painful to us, yet not so apparent to others. If not exposed, cleaned, and even retraumatized, they may never heal completely. I see this every day in my patients who are suffering from illness whose roots are from a previous "injury" they have carefully covered up because the healing process has taken too long, or hurts too much, or there is no one available to help. One of my detective jobs is to try to find the "wound" which is the source and then we can work together to find the healing solution. My patients find themselves in a relationship with a very persistent and patient health care provider who will pick away until things heal over properly, no matter how long it takes. At times it will hurt, they certainly won't like it, and they'll want me to go away and leave them alone. But I won’t abandon them even when they pull away from me.
So in cleaning and bandaging my arm twice daily, I am renewed in my thanksgiving for a Lord who knows all about the most painful of wounds. He invites us to touch Him where He was hurt, knowing, in turn, we cannot hide our suffering from His healing hand.
"Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake." Victor Hugo
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