“Stop Looking at the Monitors”

When we put a patient on hospice in the hospital, families have been used to staring at the monitor to watch their loved one’s heart rate, blood pressure and oxygenation. When staff needs the monitor on and family appears glued to it, trying to track the sometimes unpredictable rhythms, we gently invite them to stop watching the monitor and just look at their loved one. Let their bodies guide us as to what they need and how comfortable they are.

We know that there is not much more we can do, but we can treat anxiety, pain and breathing difficulties pretty well, even for those who are semi or unconscious. In a way we have become our own versions of semi conscious. We have our own kinds of pain; and we are all very trained, if not addicted, to monitoring ourselves with devices and social media statistics.

Today I caught myself, while walking in my favorite park on the most beautiful day of weather we have had in months, when I happened to be off of work surprisingly early- checking my phone to count my steps and see if I had gotten “enough.”

Instead of feeling in my body when I was done walking, I had to use my phone, and whatever arbitrary statistic and goal I had set for myself, to decide when I would be done.

You cannot measure or rate the experience of the wind on your skin and the sun on your face after endless days and nights of fluorescent lighting, cement blocks, and linoleum.

There is no checkbox on my clinical recordkeeping software that can articulate or qualify the Light sparkling on the surface of the flowing creek after months without a good rain.

How do we measure a good day or a bad day? How do we know if we are successful? How do we decide what will matter when we are the ones in the bed, with our final life processes being vigilantly monitored by our loved ones? It won’t be a step monitor, or an iPhone, or likes on a social media scroll that will define who we are as individuals or within the most important relationships in our lives.

Look away from the monitors of life; and look within your heart and soul to measure your quality of Life!

What metrics can we let go of to embrace the sensations of a life fully lived?

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