Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Spaghetti is Pretty Accurate

14 deaths. it's grusome i keep count. 14.

it's just a number but i remember all of them. not the names (although some) but the faces and the grief and the hope and support and love showed by the family members to one another.

recently another fear of mine came true. dude came in, left arm amputated at the shoulder. arm was in a red cooler marked "soda" and the guy was awake and talking. family came in, lots of family. i saw them bandage up the arm for shipping. i saw them take the muck and chords that used to be connected to something and bandage that up. i intially thought that i'd do what i do when i see this stuff on TV (discovery health and horror flicks are in the same catagory for me). namely i'd gag and puke and be an embarrasment to the staff. i wasn't. thinking about it, the spaghetti and sauce that some B movies in the 50s used to show gore is actually pretty accurate.

i'm amazed at how concern for someone else binds you to them. even if it's just a surface "gee i hope that guy is okay" is enough. it's about risking relationship even though this guy is suffering and missing an arm. our tendancy is to shy away from suffering and "leave the family to their grief." this is crap. go towards it, now more than ever is when the suffering person and their family needs others.

 i didn't gag because i can tell it's a person... not an image or gimick. i feel the family's concern. i gather the things of the gentlemen because it's a concern he has that he can manage. i package them up the way he wants it and even have the family member of his choice sign off on it. things he can control while he waits for the chopper to come and his left arm is across the room and on ice. these things matter. they aren't theory although it helps to articulate it. it's best not to be all feeling during these situations either. balance between the two.

i love CPE. hard, challenging, promotes growth.

even when i come across people with some VERY crazy beliefs. on the same night a crazy dude was talking about David's sperm and some strange adoptionist heretical view of the trinity. i enjoyed spending time with that twisted-logic, maybe-demented old guy who's obsessed with sperm. there are worse things... like eugenics, neo-liberal globalization, genocide, and religious fundamentalism. all this guy worried about was whether he had "produced enough fruit to be adopted by the Father at judgement." fair enough. that's a concern i can live with. it's honest and true (despite the trappings of CRAZY!). as much as i wanted to attack his beliefs, i didn't. he was a lonely guy, scared to be in the hospital and in the twilight of his life. he was excited to talk religion with someone who represented the field and i'm happy that i could provide that presence.

this is making me a better pastor, husband, father, and human. i'm enjoying the program and feel i have authority to claim, a presence to provide, and a listening ear when ppl need it.


Sabio Lantz said...

Luke, you said: "i'm amazed at how concern for someone else binds you to them. even if it's just a surface "gee i hope that guy is okay" is enough."

Curious, have you read about mirror neurons?

I feel the trick to moving toward grief, is to do it without an agenda except to feel what the other person feels. If you go toward it with a solution (typical guy thing) or with a message ("Jesus loves you"), it is YOU going toward that person, not love.

And if you go at it with only sympathy, it is also mistaken. "Gee, that looks terrible, I would feel terrible and deeply scared if I lost an arm (if my mother died/ if I was diagnosed with cancer)" Sure, let your mirror neurons initiate your movement toward them but then you should try to feel and understand who the person is in-and-of-themself. Forget about how you'd feel in the same situation. Such a surrender can help the person. And sometimes, it mean "move away", "leave me to my family, son" or sometime it mean "come closer", "thank you". Love takes a living heart (motor neurons) and a discerning, compassionate mind.

Just the thought of 20 years of ER experience. Have you felt these tugs and pulls?

Anglican Boy said...

Wow! It sounds like CPE is giving you a lot of things to think about and helping you grow in your faith. I think you are right that we shy away from grief. Instead, we should go into it. I remember your quote that I still think about to this day, "If there's no hope in that room, you go in anyway." That is profound. Keep writing about this, I am learning so much!

Sabio Lantz said...

Luke, you said, "feel i have authority to claim, a presence to provide, and a listening ear when ppl need it."

Does that mean that an atheist like me, has no presence and nothing nearly as special as you when I approach these folks? Maybe I should always ask a minister to accompany me.
Must be nice to have that glow of someone else living in you. All I got is little 'ole me. Sniffle.

Luke said...


Mirror neurons... no. Feedback loops, yes. similar things? i think i get what you're talking about, how some ppl's "go away" means "come closer." i've felt the daily tug and pull of other's humanity and my own. that's what the post's meta-moral would be ;-)


thanks for the recall. yeah, that phrase keep coming back to me as well as i go through this trying yet wonderful experience.


" has no presence and nothing nearly as special as you when I approach these folks?"

I dunno how to take this... if it's a joke, it's funny. if serious, i'm sorta sad. i'm gonna go with the serious.

i don't remember saying atheists don't have presences. we all do! it's the intention to meet the person where they are that is vital. i feel that my tradition calls for this and lays out particular ways to operate that would be 'divine like.' that doesn't mean someone else could come to a similar conclusion outside of my beliefs/tradition. i believe that we're all children of God whether we believe in God or not. it's a faith stance. you can be Christ to another without having to believe in Christ. if anything Sabio, you maybe more Christ like than I could be because you don't have any agenda to convert or defend a particular faith stance (not saying i intentionally do either, but maybe subconsciously).

Sabio Lantz said...

@ Luke
I like your reply to me !

Sabio Lantz said...

Luke, you may enjoy reading on mirror neurons -- I included the link.
Keeping up on neurological explanations for human consciousness and behavior is as important as keeping up on evolution. It will make you more powerful at your job !

Anglican Gurl said...

Did you just tell an atheist that they could be a better Christian than you?

I love this blog!