Guess how this patient was feeling when I walked into her room?
She blurted out the first word that came to her mind, and I've never forgotten her or the experience we had together. As sick as she was, we shared more than a couple belly laughs.
And here’s what it meant to her.
A full year later, I received a call from this woman. She had lost the art in the transition out of the hospital, and had spent a year searching, frustrated, telling her friends and family about it, calling the hospital, desperate to get it back.
The night she called, she had been looking through her hospital papers again, and found my card. She told me her name and asked if I remembered doing that word, and I laughed out loud at how clear the memory was!
She wondered if I’d create it for her, again? She thought it was beautiful and she just needed to get it back.
There is a power in naming a single word like that, to capture something important to the person lying in the bed, in the room, in the hospital, in the middle of a health crisis. That’s an intense situation for anyone, and it’s easy to feel powerless.
Even if a patient asked for the word HELPLESS, it helped them. It cleared the feeling from their body and made them more aware of themselves. It dissipated the cloud from their mind and energized them with the feeling that they had been heard.
We would sit in silence or deep in conversation as they watched me draw their word. Once I finished, they usually asked me to hang the word on the wall at the foot of their bed. Some even said they wanted to frame it when they got home.
Keep in mind that these were done with a 12-pack of crayons, so it’s not like they’d ever have any real artistic value. But they spoke to something deep in each person who was willing to name their truth.
During our phone call, this woman told me that when I entered her room at the hospital that day, she felt horrible. All she wanted was for me to go away. But when I mentioned doing word art, she decided, what the hell. She’d just tell me how she felt.
And now, a year later, she is still feeling the power of that moment.
Honesty matters. Naming something matters. Speaking up in the middle of a helpless situation gives a person's spirit a dose of oomph. Having it captured in an artistic way gives them a visual reminder of the power of saying what they needed to say.
If you or someone you know needs a dose of word medicine and a conversation they won't forget, I know just the doctor who can help.