The Heart in Two Forms - Treating the Real Heart 

  • By Moira McDougall
  • 21 Jun, 2015

How much do we really connect with the people in our worlds?

The Heart in Two Forms - Treating the Real Heart
The Heart in Two Forms - Treating the Real Heart
As a physiotherapist I have been taught to observe, palpate, analyse, correct. In some instances, manual therapy has been obliterated totally and the therapist is required to only observe, record and comment.

There is little satisfaction gained when, intrinsically, you ache to get to the root of an issue and manually massage it out or provide a gentle reassuring technique to feed your patient’s need for ‘something to make me feel better’.

John Mandrola wrote an article posted in Medscape recently, about treating the Real Heart . Although I am not a Cardiologist, I related so much to what was being expressed. He was discussing a plenary session presented by Dr Abraham Verghese (Stanford University, CA) during the American College of Cardiology 2015 Scientific Sessions.

Dr Verghese spoke of the heart in two forms:

The hearts that we examine physically that are easy to see and
The Spiritual Heart, the organ that connects us as people.

He wanted to know what makes that connection, how do we treat the Real Heart of our patient?

Firstly, we need to harness the power of words , as words are the glue that makes the meeting between us happen.
Then, another way to carry the hearts of our patients requires that we notice the ritual that happens during the encounter between the clinician and patient. The place beyond words is the encounter between clinician and patient – the actual ritual. “They trust us with their secrets, they allow us to touch them”.

Dr Verghese went on to say that when we recognise our own sense of self and of the patient’s being, something profound and magical happens.
But, if we shorten this ritual, when we don’t hear or touch our patient, we miss the transformation.

If we connect with the Real Heart of our patient we approach the magic of poetry – a place where the mind and the heart say the same thing.

Have you recently experienced this magic?

It can happen during any encounter during our day, not just between clinician and patient. When did you last greet someone warmly and sincerely, and hug them? Smile a greeting and hold out a hand? Listen to a child’s lament and wipe their tears? You have experienced this magic!

We have the opportunity to truly connect with each others Real Hearts multiple times in our daily interactions, if we could just remember it.

If you resonated with this post, please feel free to share and re-post.

Self Manage Chronic Pain

By Moira McDougall 14 Feb, 2017

I recently visited an elderly woman in her home, in my community therapy role. So much had been happening in her world. During the weeks since my last visit she had experienced some serious health challenges, and her brother had died.

How could I be surprised that she had not managed to continue with the exercise and walking programme we had started?

She was tired, heartbroken and wracked with guilt, describing herself as “full of self-pity” because she was mourning the loss of her dear brother. This had also reminded her of the grief she experienced when her sister died a year previously.

I sat and listened with my Whole Heart.

 I was not there to offer solutions, to slap a band-aid over her aching heart, to make light of her feelings. I told her I believed it was good, right and proper to feel such acute loss and to express it. How else do we recover from our deep wounds?

She told me about her family, her ancestors who had migrated to New Zealand from an Eastern European country, just before the time of the Depression. She spoke of a grandfather who worked many menial jobs to provide for his family of seven children. Her parents also worked hard to raise her and her many siblings – a labour of love which she reflected on with great gratitude. She spoke of one of her sisters who had endured many trials and tribulations only to finally triumph – and she now lives overseas. She spoke with love of her own children – their successes and challenges.

In the telling, she called all of her Ancestors into that small lounge. I could feel them standing around her. I told her that I believed that talking about our Loved ones brings them close.

I can recognise the entrenched belief that being occupied fully, being accountable for every minute spent at the expense of any form of pure relaxation, has been ingrained in our psyches. No wonder, then, that this dear soul believed she was “full of self-pity” because her thoughts kept turning to those she loved dearly who were no longer here, in physical form. Because she could not do it for herself, I offered her the gift of my time, so that she could express what her heart was longing to share.

When it was time for me to leave, she hugged me tightly and thanked me for “just listening”. I feel I was the recipient of the greater gift. I heard her heart sing!

Do you feel taking time to grieve is selfish? Do you believe it is a form of self-pity?

I welcome your comments.

By Moira McDougall 12 Jan, 2017

You are going to win! With these words spurring me on, how could I not be a winner!

This morning I set out on my morning run, and it was hot already. Along the way, I passed and greeted a mum on her early morning walk, pushing her two small children in their stroller. The older child called out to me as I passed them, “you are going to win!”. How could I not honour that proclamation? How could I even consider feeling tired or discouraged with those beautiful words ringing in my ears?

This set me thinking about the many times I feel discouraged, as if I am wading through sludge. I have a strong work ethic, and set myself tasks and deadlines. This works for me when I have a good idea about a desired outcome, because it keeps me on track and I can measure my progress. But what happens when I am not sure about what I want to pursue or produce?

I am marooned in indecision, in not knowing, what my ‘next step’ is. Do you experience this too?

Business and personal coaching works wonders in helping one to define a pathway, helping to break down goals into manageable steps, in order to reach the defined outcome. This supposes that one already KNOWS or at least has an idea of the desired outcome.

One beautiful practice I was invited to participate in, invited us each to choose a Word to define a theme to focus on through the new year ahead, and to choose four Supporting Words to cushion or supplement the Word.

I have chosen SURRENDER.

Nothing works easily when I am pushing uphill, trying to do it all alone. I am not giving up, just practising being present in the moment, experimenting with ‘flowing’ rather than being rigid.

My supporting words are Grace, Gratitude, Courage and Insight – all qualities I will need to call on and include in my daily living.

Which brings me back to the proclamation “You are going to win!” We are all winners when we focus on what inspires us, what gives us meaning, and practice living in the present moment. And when we have others cheering us on!

“You are going to win!” – how does that make YOU feel?

By Moira McDougall 02 Jan, 2017

I have a heavy heart moving into this new year. Endings and more endings, because I am grieving the loss of two people dear to me.

My sister Anne has dementia and she is sliding further into the space between here and there. While she is still physically present, I miss her intellect, her sharp wit, her full presence. She is my older sister. I have known her my whole life. I never imagined that I would not be with her ‘fully’. She was the drawcard for my move to live in Christchurch.

She always looked after my younger brother and I; we looked up to her and trusted her guidance. As the eldest child, she copped the authority of our parents, and she fought hard for her independence. She is super intelligent, and my brother and I had a hard time following after her at school. She chose her own path, and with her husband travelled to places I have only ever dreamt of.

Now, I call on all my parenting and therapy skills as I navigate our relationship. She can’t remember what she ate two minutes ago, or whether she has eaten at all. She can’t dress herself. Her spatial awareness is impaired – steps are a challenge, and she doesn’t recognise familiar objects. Loud noises and busyness upset her, and her tolerance levels are reduced. Soon, she will need to be placed into full time care, which seems like a jail sentence. Excepting, there is no parole to look forwards to.

My heart is breaking. How did her Soul choose this challenge in this Lifetime?


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