with the soft cloth
of loving attention
the gems are emerging
Have you ever had one of those days where it feels like you got up on the wrong side of the bed, and you want to go back to sleep?
I recently had one of those days.
Words were hit like racquet balls in conversation with family members instead of catching them, holding them for a while, and then playfully tossing them back. My low back, sacroiliac joints, and gluteal muscles were starting to complain again, as if I wasn’t taking good care of them. I was hungry and nauseous from the Suprep Bowel Kit solution in preparation for a colonoscopy.
Instead of stringing undesirable events together on a continuous chain of aversion, I was surprised by the care that showed up between and around these events.
Bathing the body in compassionate breath, I also took a breath for others in similar situations. There was awareness of imperfection, impermanence, and the impersonal nature of it all. I noticed the way my partner and mom would check up on me periodically to see how I was doing. I pictured loved ones saying the exact metta words I needed to hear, wrapping me in a warm blanket of love and understanding.
May you polish these rocks of aversion with the soft cloth of loving attention.
May you stay in the present moment and notice the care around you.
Don’t misunderstand me. I didn’t like any of the confusion in conversations, the physical discomfort, or the unsettling gastrointestinal sensations. (I won’t even go into the bowel details!) If I had gone back to sleep, I would have missed out on the gems emerging with practice, with time.
Waiting in the pre-op room, I answer the nurse’s questions about my medical history, medications taken, and sign all the necessary consent forms. When it’s time to find a vein suitable for IV access, the nurse comments that I’m a ‘hard stick’ (venous access will be difficult due to small, less prominent veins and some degree of dehydration from the bowel prep).
The words pierce a hole in the bubble of equinimity I’ve created in preparation for this procedure. Or is it a bubble of resistance?
The nurse attempts to find IV access in my right arm, ‘threading’ the needle to reach a vein. When this is unsuccessful, she tries again with my right hand, again ‘threading’ the needle to contact a vein. After the second failed attempt, two more nurses are called in to try.
Each nurse takes an upper extremity searching for a suitable vein, a way to pop the bubble of resistance and access vulnerability. I feel like a pin cushion as tears begin to fall for the sharp, lancinating sensations felt in my right arm and hand.
I didn’t sign up for this. This wasn’t even on the consent form. This isn’t supposed to happen!!!
Allowing the tears to flow, the irritation at the first nurse for poking me twice and all the nurses for asking me repeatedly if I’m ok (do I look ok to you?), and the unpleasant physical sensations to be here just as they are, I’m asked to befriend another round of aversion.
Breathing in self-compassion, breathing out compassion for other patients who have felt like pincushions, I notice that there is a little compassion for the nurse as well. I have also asked colleagues for help when faced with certain challenging procedures in patient care.
Thank you asking for help when you did.
The nurse looks at me with genuine care.
Of course. I wasn’t going to stick you again. I usually don’t have trouble with IV access. You were a hard stick.
The words don’t feel as sharp as they did before. Rocks polished with the soft cloth of loving attention, the gems are emerging.
It doesn’t matter how many times aversion arises, because it will, again and again. It’s how I relate to it that matters most.