Last week I was in the “piney woods” of northern Louisiana. I had thought I would write a blog entry from there, but time and internet access were scarce, so I’m doing it this week. My wife and I were visiting her parents, Aaron and Betty. I have always enjoyed being with them and this trip was no exception. It was also a time to check on how they were doing. They are both in their 80s and have some significant health problems.
On Tuesday Betty’s visiting nurse came to see her, and it made me think of the part of the Hippocratic Oath that says “Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick.” Physicians don’t take care of their patients in their homes very much any more. There are good reasons why things have changed, but there are things that have been lost.
The nurse who comes out to see Betty is becoming part of the family. They offer her tea and cake and Aaron teases her like he does his daughter.
In the sterile environment of the hospital or office a patient can become a diabetic or an arthritic or a stroke victim. In her home she is the person she really is and it is harder to miss that. Those of us who care for the sick need to remember that what we are doing should be for the benefit of those we care for. Those who receive our care are real people with homes and families who are welcoming the physicians and nurses and others who care for them into their lives just like they would welcome us into their homes.
We need to enter into their lives as respectfully as we would enter their homes and realize we are being accepted as a part of their family.