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The Importance of a Human Touch

By Megan Baird

I’m scared. Right now I am 21 years old, a senior in college, 6 months pregnant & 1 year ago I found out I am HIV-positive.

I know what I just told you made you uneasy. I know it made me uneasy to say it. How would you respond if someone told you this?

How would it make you feel? This person could be anyone. She could be a friend, a neighbor, a colleague or even a relative. 2 years ago she was my patient. Let me tell you how I responded.

It was my first interview with a patient & I must admit that I was nervous, very nervous. I didn’t want her to know this was my first interview & I was unsure of myself. I took a deep breath & called her in. Her name was Jennifer.

I tried to be as professional as I could during the course of the interview. When she told me she was HIV- positive & pregnant, I quickly wrote down the information & attempted to be unaffected by her response.

My mind was racing & I found it difficult to concentrate. I had so many concerns for her. How was she dealing with her diagnosis? Was she scared? I tried to shake these thoughts from my head. I had an interview to conduct. I needed to be strong & confident & not let Jennifer see my weaknesses.

In the middle of my questions, she stopped me. She looked at my name tag & asked, “Megan, why didn’t you tell me how you felt when I told you I had HIV? Why didn’t you respond?” I was shocked. I didn’t know what to say.

I slowly put down my clipboard, looked up at her & asked, “How does it make you feel?”

She told me she was scared — very scared. She said she felt very alone sometimes & she was afraid of what her future held. She had dreams of becoming a lawyer but was devastated when she found out she was HIV-positive. She was worried about how people would treat her & most importantly, she was concerned for the health of her unborn child.

I told her how I felt when she told me — how I had wanted to comfort her but that I was afraid to be unprofessional.

It was then that she told me something I will never forget — something that has changed my approach to nursing & given new meaning to the career path I have chosen.

She said, “Megan, never grow cold to your patients’ needs. That’s how many doctors & nurses deal with the emotional strain that comes with caring for people. They find the stress & heartache too difficult to handle & eventually grow numb to it in an attempt to cope.

Don’t ever let this happen to you. I'm not just a disease, not just a check on a piece of paper, not just a diagnosis. I'm a person. My illness can't just be treated with medicine; it must also be treated with tenderness & compassion.

I am just like you. I have hopes & dreams just like you do. I know that you get scared & hurt just like I do. Only when you realize this will you truly be able to care for, heal & help people.”

When the interview was over I wished her luck & thanked her. She then turned to me & said, “You're going to be an amazing nurse someday, Megan.”

I came to Georgetown to become a nurse & became a better person. Some of the most rewarding moments of my college education have occurred when the books are closed & I'm face to face with another person.

Thru these encounters, I've learned to be comfortable with my own emotions & responses. In sharing this personal part of myself with other people, I'm beginning to understand how vulnerability can lead to strength & not weakness.

My exchanges haven't been one-sided & I've been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to listen to others & share their journeys with them. This shared experience has helped me to recognize the person in myself & the person in those around me.

At the end of May this year, the members of the senior class will leave Georgetown with degrees in hand. But these degrees are a testament to only part of the education available here. There isn't a certificate symbolizing what I've learned from my family, friends, patients, teachers & the strangers who have changed my life with one brief encounter.

These people have made me a better person & I wish I could thank them all. Maybe I'm not the one who deserves the certificate of chievement, but then again, maybe I am their reward.

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"i've just gotta say it!"
August 2009
kathleen howe
I'm back to work here and all over the network as well as www.selfgrowth.com - newsvine.com - my new blog at
living with emotional feelings, intuit.com, and I'm beginning to write for another online publication called the examiner.com. It's all in a days work! Typing my fingers to the bone has been most of my days recently, but I'm working on some other things as well, most directly - my own self. I suddenly realized that I was too focused on one thing - my mental health.
Last month I began changing my thought processes a bit to examine what goals I need to consider making so I can prioritize them and make plans to accomplish each one. I have let myself go, "physically" and that's not good. While my mental health continues to be a struggle, I was under the impression that I would be able to get it under control and be able to go on with the next thing. Mental health issues aren't quite that simple to beat or so I'm finding out anyway, especially being diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.
I went to a sleep clinic and found that I was waking up between 35-40 times per hour each night. I have sleep apnea which has continually gotten worse with weight gain. My oxygen saturation is also sinking down to 50% at times while I'm sleeping which is also very bad. So I am getting a CPAP machine. I'll be writing my story about my sleep problems and how I'm trying to alleviate them within the next six months over at anxieties 101 on the sleep page.
I have also gained a huge amount of weight because of my leg. If you haven't read about my accident I had six years ago, I have had a very weak leg that swells constantly around my ankle, gives me too much pain and I can't walk but for a few yards and I have to sit down. I just can't exercise the way I have always exercise in the past.
So I am considering taking on swimming. I'm so excited about it. I have found that the only thing I can do about my leg is to lose weight and have cortisone shots into my ankle. Perhaps after losing some weight and strengthening my legs with a non weight bearing exercise I'll have less pain at the end of each day.
I'm also going to rent some yoga cd's and see if I can find one I like - then I'll buy it. I need to devote some time to relaxation, meditation and yoga. I'm excited that I've made the decision to actually incorporate these very important activities into my daily regime.
There's a website I'm very excited about and it's outside my network, it's www.innerbonding.com. I suggest that everyone visit the website and register to read some of the free articles Margaret has on her site. I'm registered, and I've added her to my facebook, but I'm going to purchase some of her materials and start working on inner bonding. I've found that this is the most important step for me to take in finding out how to love myself.
I have some issues within my family that I need to concentrate on as well. I will be taking some important time off of working and writing to see if I can interupt the dysfunction that's currently making many people within my family miserable. I have made plans to take a few trips on my own without the rest of the family so I can spend some quality time with a few of my adult children. I'm hoping that things go well with them. My first trip is in September and it's to New York City! I'm very excited about it.
Here at the emotional feelings network of sites I've been trying to get all the sites looking the same and finished. I've changed the homepages of each site or added a "network guide" which you will find directly after the homepage in the navigational panel on the left hand side of the page. Tripod is changing their site building program to a new one so each site will have to be transferred over to this new web tool. This month will be busy for me transferring over 30 websites to the new tool. It will be interesting so wish me luck. If you see strange looks or changes to the format or background you'll know why.
As soon as I get all the sites transferred over I'll be finishing up the current sites listed on the homepages and then tweaking them all so that each page will contain up to date information unless of course, the information seems to be timeless as some surely is. So as you can see, I've been formulating a plan to get these sites in tip top shape so they take less time to maintain.
I haven't had an income for seven years so that is one of my priorities. While I'll never make the emotional feelings network of sites a profitable venture - I am working on a project that will make money on the Internet so I need to keep my time frame flexible with working on the basics of setting up a new business. This is why I am branching out and writing some articles on other network sites so that I can meet some people who I may be able to do business with in the future.
Perhaps I'll be sharing some good fish stories with you all as I'm going to be doing some night fishing this month with my husband. August always seems to have the most meteor showers and the weather will be nice still before fall comes. I've missed night fishing with him. Part of my personal growth and recovery journey will now revolve around working on my relationships and my marriage is one that could use a small amount of extra work - so I pick fishing in August! Watch out you big channel cats, I'll be catching you with my mean ol' "Ugly Stick" soon!
As for all of you, I thank you for continuing to visit the emotional feelings network of sites. I've begun to pay for a few of the sites so that I could increase the amount of information on those sites as well as monitoring the visitors who come to the site. This information that's available to me shows me what you all are searching for when you come to the sites. So after I collect that information, I will research whatever it is you've been looking for and add the info to the appropriate pages so the next time you come looking the info will be there.
I'm thankful to get that information because it helps to guide me towards information that you all are looking for thus keeping me current and interesting! There's more to come that I'll tell you about in September, so keep visiting and send me an email now and then to say hello! It's those emails that keep me going!

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