Just a little touch
Gerald W. Deas M.D., MPH | 5/29/2014, 1:59 p.m.
From the time I entered medical school, I can’t recall one course that I took that ever mentioned the word “touch.” Luckily, I was familiar with the word from the times when my mom was making a cake or pie. She never used measuring spoons. She would just add a touch of this and a touch of that. It seemed that she knew which additions were needed to get the right taste. I do recall folks using the word “touch” when they were uncertain of an outcome of a risky, serious medical situation. They would say it was “touch and go” whether the family member would live or die.
Often, as I go to medical conferences, it seems that the spirit of medicine is out of touch. The physicians spend their time looking at laboratory data, instead of touching the spirit of the ones they are caring for. A touch goes a long way. In fact, I often suggest to family members who are visiting a loved one in the hospital to take along a glycerin stick (which can be purchased at a drugstore), which will refresh a loved one’s mouth. I also suggest that they bring an aromatic oil to massage the muscles around the neck of the patient. This type of touch changes the whole chemistry that is taking place in the body. Finally, I suggest that a nice, soft, fuzzy washcloth be used to wash their face, particularly around the eyes and nose, and their feet.
I can recall often when I had injured myself as a child, just a parental touch to the injured area would make a difference in relieving the discomfort. When I had a so-called chest cold, my mom would rub me down with a healing ointment, and by morning, I would feel much better. Just think, in those days we didn’t even have antibiotics.
At birth, our nervous system is so sensitive that it can react to a blanket made of wool or synthetic fibers. If a baby is squirming and crying, you can bet that the blanket surrounding them or their bedclothes may be irritating their very sensitive skin. Do you hear me, new mothers?
It was recorded in the Bible that a woman who had a blood disorder was healed by the touch of the hem of Christ’s garment. I am sure that many patients would benefit from that same touch from nurses and doctors when they are hospitalized. It takes so little to help the healing process.
Today, more doctors are attending conferences that present topics on mind and body healing at major medical schools, but it seems that medical students do not have this opportunity.
In 1988, while producing a television show on Channel 5, “The McCreary Report,” I was fortunate to have as a guest Dr. Dolores Krieger, Ph.D., R.N., who wrote the book “Living the Therapeutic Touch: Healing as a Lifestyle.” She described how you can use your hands to help heal. When I finished the interview, she signed off with “Keep in touch.” I would suggest that all of those who are in the healing profession read this book, which won the National League for Nursing’s Martha E. Rogers Award. The book will add another dimension to your ability to heal body, mind and soul.
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