I checked the CNN front page when I got home this evening as I normally do. The article to the left highlighted the Dhaka tragedy of the building collapse as we are now post accident day five. The article to the right was about Boston and focusing on the terror links in the marathon incidents. I never thought that I would find myself in the midst of the two widely publicized international events simultaneously. As a Boston native living in Dhaka, Bangladesh my empathy goes to both situations and reminds me just how connected we all are as people; we all feel pain.
The protests continue as the country continues to mourn the building collapse. The death toll continues to climb as the rescue efforts continue for survivors. The unbearable heat and lack of resources has severely hindered rescue efforts. The first account stories of the victims from my nursing students today was heart breaking. One described a story of nine workers trapped in a tight space where only one was found alive. They described the bodies brought to the hospital and what they did to assist with the rescue efforts. They told us how the victims families reacted to the news upon hearing about another casualty. Again, pain is a universal emotion which takes no preference to class, religion, culture, country, wealth, education, gender or occupation.
I visited the oncology ward today to gain a better understanding of the nursing profession in Bangladesh. I met some inspiring and courageous patients each with a different survival story to be told. Just like my patients back home, everyone has a story to tell. I find that in times when I don't have answers for patients the best thing I can do is listen to assure them at least someone heard them.
The nurse showing me around knew his patients very well and could describe their personalities in great detail. One particular patient who I'll refer to as "Adan" stood out with his bright affect. I was immediately drawn to his wide smile and kind eyes. Adan is a 22 year old who was diagnosed in 2007 with Leukemia while studying at college. He handed me his medical record (which he kept in his bed) with his scans spilling out. He proudly recited his labs to me and explained the different treatments he has gone through. His positive energy gave me a sense of hope as his mother stood loyally at his bedside. He asked for pictures with us and excitedly stated that he was so happy to meet us. Although I'm sure that's true, I tried to relay to him the gift his presence had given me; a renewed sense of hope.
I know I've mentioned before how grateful I am for all the support I've received, I wanted to say it again because it's worthy of repetition. Without the amazing support system that I have, I would not be able to do this. All the messages and encouragement literally means the world to me and gives me the strength to continue with this type of work. In a world where we often focus on all the "bad" things that happen, I feel like I am very fortunate to be able to see how much "good" there really is.
I've been lucky to have worked at the greatest hospital in America and now at one that would be at the opposite end of the spectrum in regard to funding. Although the differences are very evident and obvious, the similarities are also there. Each day I travel to the public hospital I think about this concept. Despite all our differences we all can still feel; that and illness doesn't discriminate. If people in the most dire circumstances can find a way have gratitude and be kind then most anyone can. "Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."- Dalai Lama. Namaste.