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Lions Roar : January 2013
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2013 71 We Love Them STACY CHIVERS I WORK AS a respiratory therapist at a small community hospital nestled by the ocean in southern California. Most of our patients are elderly, and serving them can be difficult. My dharma practice has helped. Dementia is rampant in the elderly community and it can be ugly. The patients can be very mean and sometimes physically abusive. When patients rear up to hit me while I am stopping them from getting out of bed, I use my calmest voice and try to reorient them to where they are. I see them as confused indi- viduals who don’t mean to hurt anyone. They are victims of a disease that causes them to act out. I use compassion. I will hug them. Sometimes the simple act of telling them that you understand, and touching them lightly on the arm, brings them back. Sometimes not. I just try every time to treat them with love, patience, and compassion—as if they were my Grandpa or my Grandma, but confused and scared. We all need a little love. Last week I had a patient who has Parkinson’s come to me for an outpatient arterial blood draw. It was a really bad day for her: she was shaking all over and having a hard time walk- ing. Embarrassed and nervous, she kept apologizing for her Parkinson’s. Instead of getting irritated, I used my practice of mindfulness and really talked with and listened to her. She smiled and her shaking eased a bit. This lady was afraid of having her blood drawn. I tried to get the sample, but she was shaking and crying so hard that I missed the artery. I helped her focus on her breath and come back to the moment. Successful, I wheeled her back down to the lobby and helped her into her husband’s car. She reached for my arm and pulled me close and hugged me and kissed me on the cheek, thanking me for being so kind to her. That practice of mindfulness and compassion shines through in everything I do. I love every patient in my care, and often get to call them Grandpa or Grandma. They love it. I love it. They feel comfortable and happy, even in the coldness of the hospital. The patients will comment that everyone who works at the hos- pital really acts like they love them. I tell them it is true. We do love them! Even the hard-to-get-along- with ones. They’re just confused, scared, and sick. Patience, compassion, mindfulness, understanding, and love: I use them at work, at home with my fourteen-year-old son, and with my friends and family. It all helps me get over hurdles with grace and dignity, letting love shine on others and making their lives a little better. Be a shining sun. The light will keep moving and growing. It’s contagious. Try it. STACY CHIVERS describes herself as a thirty-four-year-old single mom and medical worker with a Buddhist heart and punk-rock rebel soul. Heart on Fire BRIAN OTTO KIMMEL WHEN I CAME to Buddhist practice I thought I needed to put on a good show, to be the perfect practitioner. Growing up surviv- ing trauma, before I even heard about Buddhism, I believed that by sacrificing my own needs, by thinking only about others, I would be freed. I believed that if I thought about myself, I would let the mysterious disease of sexual abuse destroy me. It nearly did. I was eleven years old when I finally told. I was thirty pounds underweight, anorexic, severely malnourished, and as psycho- logically vigilant as a deer feeding in an open field. I watched for predators and was startled at the tiniest touch or sound. I testified in court against my stepfather when I was twelve. I believed it was another opportunity to serve. The grown-ups around me, including parents and the prosecutor, said my testi- mony would help save other kids. In many ways my testimony did help, but left unattended was the little child inside of me. PHOTOBYTIMCHIVERS