How rarely do we know the healing power of our presence

Letter from a patient:

“We met many months ago, you in the role of anaesthetist, me as patient…

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the all-encompassing experience of being fully met – Presence, level eye contact, pace, tone of voice, physical touch ….I could go on and on. The experience is beyond words. I cannot underestimate the importance of being received in that way at that time ..and then the flow into the operating theatre …feeling so totally safe and at ease.

I cannot help but wonder what impact that has on all present, the surgery itself and post-surgical recovery and beyond. That experience resonates within still.”

The science tells us that this kind of compassionate presence directly affects the patient’s physiology and stimulates a wide range of healing mechanisms that lead to better clinical outcomes (see an info-graphic for a summary). What we rarely have the privilege of knowing is just how much this healing presence means to our patients on an emotional level. I was so touched to receive this letter from my patient – not someone I remember, just a ‘routine’ case in the OR many months before.

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