I have recently been treating a lovely patient who has had a long list of surgeries for a dodgy knee, scraping, cleaning, trimming, washing, a veritable shopping list of orthopaedic procedures. None of this has helped his ongoing knee problem and in fact has worsened his pain due a knee infection undiagnosed for months. As this infection abates I have been trying to encourage him to mobilise doing some new exercise. Normally I am careful how I speak with my patients. To my shame on this occasion I asked him to move his sore leg (or did I say his injured leg ?)….. I blush when I think of it. He looked me in the eye and said, I prefer to call it my “recovering leg”. Beautiful. Talk about something simple making you change your practice! I vow to be more careful in the words I use from here on.
Speaking of which, I found a lovely analogy for a patient who is ignoring his affected limb. Somewhere I read that we need to facilitate the patient to re embrace his recovering limb (you see I am learning !). As an aside the word for embrace in Italian is ” abbraccio ” which literally means to put your arms around…. Isn’t that lovely? (forte abbraccio is a bear hug !!). So now we are trying to find ways of him embracing in or welcoming his recovering arm back into the fold so to speak. It re – emphasises the power of the words we use and their ability to foster healing.
– Blanaid Coveney