Touching Others Who Seem Untouchable

Emergency-room personnel transported him to the cardiac floor.  Long hair,
unshaven, dirty, dangerously obese and a black motorcycle jacket tossed on
the bottom shelf of the stretcher – an outsider to this sterile world of
shining terrazzo floors, efficient uniformed professionals and strict
infection-control procedures.

Definitely an untouchable!

The nurses at the station looked wide-eyed as this mound of humanity was
wheeled by – each glancing nervously at my friend Bonnie, the head nurse.
“Let this one not be mine to admit, bathe and tend to…” was the
pleading, unspoken message from their inner concern.


One of the true marks of a leader, a consummate professional, is to do the
unthinkable.  To touch the untouchable.  To tackle the impossible.  Yes,
it was Bonnie who said, “I want this patient myself.”  Highly unusual for
a head nurse – unconventional – but “the stuff” out of which human spirits
thrive, heal and soar.  As she donned her latex gloves and proceeded to
bathe this huge, filthy man, her heart almost broke.  Where was his
family? Who was his mother?  What was he like as a little boy?

She hummed quietly as she worked to ease the fear and embarrassment she
knew he must have been feeling.  And then on a whim she said, “We don’t
have time for back rubs much in hospitals these days, but I bet one would
really feel good.  And, it would help you relax your muscles and start to
heal.  That is what this place is all about – a place to heal.”


All in a day’s work.  Touching the untouchable.

His thick, scaly, ruddy skin told a story of an abusive lifestyle.
Probably lots of addictive behavior, to food, alcohol and drugs.  As
Bonnie rubbed the taut muscles, she hummed and prayed.  Prayed for the
soul of a little boy grown up, rejected by life’s rudeness and striving
for acceptance in a hard, hostile world.

The finale – warmed lotion and baby powder.  Almost laughable – such a
contrast on this huge, rugged surface.  As he rolled over onto his back,
tears rolled down his cheek.  With amazingly beautiful brown eyes, he
smiled and said in a quivering voice, “No one has touched me for years.”
His chin trembled.  “Thank you.  I am healing.”


In a day when we have increasing concern about the appropriateness of
touch, Bonnie taught this hurting world to still dare to touch the
untouchable through eye contact, a warm handshake, a concerned voice – or
the physical reassurance of warmed lotion and baby powder.

Christopher Ian Chenoweth, Positive Christianity

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