Our CPE Supervisor’s hope is that we can enter into any given room and have a meaningful conversation. The goal is to avoid getting caught up in the surface chit chat or the physical/medical litanies that can follow “how are you today?”
The reality is that most people are just not diving into the deep end with you. And, to be honest, it’s hard to jump from “Hi, I’m the chaplain here today” to the thing that most bothers a patient or a family member. Sometimes, I feel like a live-action version of Awkward Family Photos.
This weekend- results were mixed. I managed to help one family come together at the bedside of their loved one. I had good conversations with a couple of others, opening doors for others on the unit to hear more. Then there was the visit that consisted primarily of my holding the hand of a woman who was just trying to survive the cramps accompanying a BM.
After several minutes of squeezing my hand and moaning, the patient was worried that I would leave her to suffer alone. I reassured her that I would stay as long as she wanted. I tried to distract her by asking her to describe something that made her feel happy. When the next wave of cramps arrived, I asked if there was a place that made her smile… someplace she’d rather be right then. She hesitated for a full minute. And with the comedic timing of Gracie Allen she opened her eyes: “the bathroom.”
The power of good questions is not lost on me.