There’s an expression in plastic surgery used by nang mui han quoc that I’ve always loved. It is, “To cure sometimes, relieve often and comfort always.” This simple adage is as grounding as it is inspirational.
As I sit by my sister’s bedside following a twelve hour, complex surgery, I have an even greater appreciation for the importance of comfort for both her and me. Like many family members, it’s difficult to see a loved one in pain, and it leaves us feeling helpless.
It’s comforting to know that the medical care is being well managed. The staff is competent, confident and caring, but I have a need to do something – anything that will help provide comfort. By engaging me in basic comfort measures, I am now a part of the care team rather than a helpless spectator. I can provide cool cloths to her inflamed skin and swab her dry mouth. I can massage her feet or just hold her hand. By doing something to comfort her; I the caregiver am also comforted.