Hospital Care and the Power of Reflection

by Doug Valentine, Peebles, Scotland

Last week I needed to attend hospital for what I call an operation, but what the doctors call ‘a couple of procedures’. This got me thinking about the care we receive in hospitals and whether there may be some truth in the recent press reports of people receiving levels of care in UK hospitals that have been described as disgraceful, with staff being reported as displaying indifference and contempt for patients. These reports were opposite to what I have experienced in hospital. Over the past year I have attended two local hospitals and have found that the doctors and nurses have shown me amazing care and support.

Therefore, in light of all the bad press that hospital care has been receiving, I decided to be very observant of all the staff who were looking after me during my recent visit. The only sign I received that things might have changed was the fact that after four hours of having tissue ablated (destroyed, in plain language) on the inside of my heart between 9 am and 1 pm, I would have been sent home at 6 pm if the wound in my leg, the keyhole, had healed as expected.

I was extremely grateful that my wound didn’t heal fast enough, so I had an unexpected night in hospital to recover before travelling home. I literally felt as if a bus had hit me, and that someone had decided to remove my heart and play 90 minutes of football with it before stuffing it back in my chest. I believe all of this was absolutely normal after the procedures they had carried out.

During my 24-hour stay, around eight different nursing staff, many from other parts of the world for whom English was a second language, supported me, along with a further team of six to eight specialists in theatre. I could feel that every single one of them was dedicated to their job and loved doing it – I couldn’t have asked for a higher level of care.

So ok, there are bound to be variations in different parts of the country, and for sure there will be a few people who shouldn’t be doing the jobs that they are doing, but I haven’t ever come across one. Not a single one. So why all the reports about how ‘disgraceful’ hospitals are?

I got to thinking about whether the care that we receive is possibly a reflection of how we are with the hospital staff: after all, no matter how dedicated they are, they are still human beings, and human beings relate to people depending on how each person is with them.

I discussed this with an old friend, who related a story to me about two of his friends, let’s call them ‘Brian’ and ‘John’. Both of these friends had gone to the same hospital in the past few months for the same (or similar) operation to deal with an aortic aneurysm. John reported afterwards that it had been a breeze, all the doctors and nurses were amazing, very caring and had done a great job. He felt wonderful and would recommend all his friends to use this hospital.

Brian, on the other hand, reported that the operation had been screwed up by the doctors who had put him back together in the wrong order (apparently they had all his organs out on a tray during the operation!), and all the staff had been awful and couldn’t care less. He felt that there had been no true care for him whatsoever, and the doctors had caused major new problems for him that he hadn’t had before he had his operation. He would caution anyone against being a patient in that hospital.

Now since it was the same operation, chances are that John and Brian were both cared for by the SAME staff or near enough, so what could account for the huge difference in care? Now as it happens, I had met Brian about 30 years ago, but I had never met John. When I met Brian, although he was a relatively young man, he felt about 20 years older than he was, and he filled the room up with misery to such an extent that I remember wanting to escape from his presence.

I told my friend this and asked him what John was like to be around. It turns out that John is a positive and cheerful person who gets along with everyone; a room feels brighter when he comes into it.

Could it therefore be that the me that we take to any situation makes a huge difference? That how the nurses and doctors are with us depends on how we are with them? Certainly for me, I know this to be the case. If I really meet people and make eye contact, I am allowing them to be themselves, whereas if I am contracted and avoid eye contact, they will most likely be defensive with me.

My thanks to Serge Benhayon for teaching me that whatever I reflect to others will be reflected back to me. I prove the truth of this to myself every single day.

546 thoughts on “Hospital Care and the Power of Reflection

  1. I have never spent a long stay in hospital but I have lots of children and so I have been in emergency on many occasions with different kids with broken limbs and so on and had a minor operation myself when I was younger. In all the times I have been, I have never felt mistreated and I really do believe it comes down to attitude. One night we had to wait 6 hours to be seen, my son had a broken arm if I recall. Some people may have gotten very upset and felt mistreated but we knew that the staff were doing their best under pressure, having lots of people being rushed in and life or death situation. My son and I came prepared with food pillows and blankets, we soaked up all the one on one time together and had an absolute ball, we even watched a movie on my laptop which we never do together. When we were finally seen and we were not angry, the staff couldn’t believe they were not copping abuse. They were so sweet and apologetic, so to me, even that was a great experience as we were able to offer a deep understanding for the pressure the team was under, the fact that they are being stretched and they opened up and had some deep conversations about their work conditions.

    1. That’s brilliant Sarah. What most people don’t realise that in an emergency department the sickest people are seen first. Unfortunately there are a lot of really sick people that come through, so those that can wait often do. Your approach to waiting in ED is fabulous, using that time just to be with your son, which no doubt put him at ease before seeing the nurse and doctor. You also presented then with people who were possibly tired but not angry about waiting, which would have been quite a relief for them, no defences necessary and as you found just people working hard in caring for those who are sick, doing the best they can in difficult circumstances.

    2. Beautiful Sarah, proof that every moment is what we make of it. Choosing anger and frustration is extremely unfair on the staff who are fully stretched and becoming more stretched every day by our ever increasing levels of illness and disease, for which we are responsible, not the over worked hospital staff.

  2. It’s true… Whatever is there to reflect… Gets reflected back at us… This is the way of life. and one of the best places to experience this is in hospital… With the good the bad and the ugly.

  3. I was in an out patient clinic recently which was running late and people were starting to grumble and complain. I find it quite strange, it’s not as if the staff are sitting around not working, and having fun. They were working so hard to their full capacity. I find it reassuring that they are dealing with more severe cases than my injury, we never know when we may one day be needing that urgent attention ourselves.

    1. For the most part people don’t appreciate what we have with the NHS. If they lived somewhere where if you have no insurance you get no treatment, it might be more understandable for them to grumble! I agree, most of the staff in hospitals do their utmost for all the patients regardless of their attitudes which can be at times offensive and abusive.

  4. “My thanks to Serge Benhayon for teaching me that whatever I reflect to others will be reflected back to me. ” this is so true often we look out at how we are being treated but not take into account how we are treating others, I have a friend who hates hospitals because so much fear and anger comes up that her experience in hospital is traumatic for her and the staff.

  5. I do recognize that. We often complain about people, but basically all they do is reflect on we have been with them, and that also show how we have been with ourselves. Have we been abusive towards ourselves, then it is a good chance we will be abusive to others, who then of course reflect that back.

  6. Yes I agree Doug, reflection is constantly offering us an opportunity to evolve, we can either embrace this or reject this and remain in the comfort and delay.

  7. How people are with us, is indeed always a reflection how we are, how we live. So very true. People can indeed have “normal” behaviors that are nasty, but if we come to them with love, tenderness and care, it is almost impossible to maintain those behaviors, proving that people are not their behaviors but so much more.

  8. We are receiving reflections all of the time and these are very often showing us the consequences of the qualities we express in….it’s a bit like receiving a dose of our own medicine when we behave less than lovingly towards another, whereas in Doug’s case his openness and love of people was reflected in the care which he received during his hospital stay.

  9. I wonder too Doug that when we approach anything with our misery that we simply don’t even see the support that is around us. The misery cloaks us and filters our perspective from that of misery. So really it would not matter what would have happened it would not have been a positive experience.

    1. That is a perfect explanation to me. If we choose the misery rather than for example choosing appreciation we guarantee a miserable experience. It is simple, yet we often expect the opposite.

  10. Interesting exercise. I find that the older I get, the more and more I realise that I am the common denominator in many situations that I used to complain about or get irritated by. Pretty awesome – albeit challenging at times – realisation because if it is due to me, then that is something I can definitely change!

  11. Yes very true, and it is also the case that how we feel within ourselves influences how we experience a situation. When we are always down and see misery everywhere for instance it is more likely we feel more tension, more pain and so on.

  12. I am learning that the science of reflection is a huge science and one that we could all do with remembering for what I am finding is that it is all known deep inside me, I have just contrived to forget these truths whilst in physical form.

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