Kate Bowler on how to “stare down the deep” with suffering patients: Practice and Presence 2018


(calming music) – It’s been hard to find
people to stare down the deep with, even the people
who are the most obvious to you aren’t always the
people that end up being there. And so sometimes it was, I mean sometimes it was my nurses. My nurses were some of
the bravest people I knew and so good at that like light touch and acknowledging the terrible
but not trying to like saddle you with it. So my nurse, Meg, at
Emory, it was just so, it was such a crappy time
because I had to like get on a plane at 4:00
a.m., get treatment all day, back by 1:00 a.m. And a lotta people in
this room sent me like airline vouchers and
like it was just an act of overwhelming charity to
just get me on the plane and there and just propelling me there and getting me enough money for treatment. It made me feel like I, and
I was, I was so grateful, but I was so tired and
I was really scared. I didn’t wanna do it by
myself and I couldn’t imagine doing it forever. And my sweet little nurse who looked like a little Anne Hathaway,
all like all pixie hair and super cute and, we were the same age and I kept thinking
like, your life’s fine. Not to be a dink, but like you’re fine. (laughing) Like I’m proud of you for
having a brave profession, but like you’re okay. You know and then like one day
she just like really sweetly just like crouched down beside me as I was getting my infusion
and she put her hand on my knee and she
said, “Just so you know, “I lost a baby.” And she said it with like
such like the right touch because the way she
was saying it was like, I knew, I knew that she
knew what it was like to have the world end
and then all of a sudden she was on my side of the Plexiglas and I loved her so much
for that and for all the health care people that
I had that just had a way of saying, you’re, just
because I’m in this uniform and you’re in that rough cotton, doesn’t mean that we’re not the same. That was really beautiful. (calming music)

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