Helping

As a nurse, caregiver, informaticist, and consultant, I help others. Intriguing concept – helping – much dynamic tension. Altruism, emotional gratification, self-satisfaction, egotism, persistence, profit, dependence. After nursing for several years I joked that nursing was an acceptable form of nosiness. I’m involved with people at intimate moments in their lives. I am gratified to participate. As an informaticist, helping clinicians and patients utilize electronic tools, the hardest work is listening to what help was needed and ensuring that the tools served the users rather than the other way around. It’s not about the tool, its about the patient, caregiver, and clinician. Caring for family members,  I’ve struggle with the tension of what I wanted to do to help and what help was wanted. Akin to parenting power dynamics. Occasionally, I’ve had to stop helping because we crossed a boundary of tension: My contribution wasn’t really helping, my feelings were hurt, I felt trapped, I was treated poorly, I wore out. As a consultant, I often found a misalignment between the help asked for and the help wanted. Confusing and disheartening. There’s a lot of helping in health care. How can helping be cleaner, regenerate, be powerful? Attending to personal, organizational, and system health of the helper – magic lever to best health. Fitness, rest, communication, leadership, fiscal soundness all help the helper. What challenges do you face as a helper or receiving help?

2 Replies to “Helping”

  1. I love your description of the dynamic tension of being a “helper”. I do respite care in Hospice. As a volunteer, each family I go into as a helper has it’s own chaotic dynamics (and end of life brings new tensions). I go through a ritual each time, before I get out of my car and put on my badge… in which I literally wash my hands (waterless cleaner), and by doing so, meditate to remove the “me” from the situation… Basically become a “Fair Witness” (as in Heinlein). I find I can do my job unencumbered by expectation, revulsion or judgement … Then upon leaving I take off my badge and wash my hands again, and meditate to lose whatever energies I have absorbed during my stay. Care givers are a unique breed of human.

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