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Perhaps there is no one else who can have more direct physical contact with those infected by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) than the nurses and doctors who are working in the hospitals. It is not just in time of the pandemic that they are called to serve those who are ill but in every situation that calls for medical assistance.

Nurses, doctors, hospital staff, and all those who are working in the healthcare field may grow weary after a long day’s work especially with the current health crisis. Some get used to the daily jostle while others look forward to untangling the difficulties for the day only to undergo the same ordeal the next day. But one thing is for sure, they feel satisfied after having done everything just to save someone else’s life.

It takes knowledge, training, and experience for them to perform to the best of their abilities. They could be likened to any soldier groomed and prepared for battle. As with anything, it all starts with a single step.

Everyone has his/her story.

Mr. Calvin Dhame Lagahit, a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Nursing 2 student, realized sooner what certain characteristics a medical worker should possess. He recognized it in a community engagement he had in a certain barangay in his locality.

Recounting his experience, he recently won 3rd Place in the Essay Writing Contest 2020 organized by the Association of Deans of Philippine Colleges (ADPCN) Cebu and the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) Cebu with his entry “Empathy”.

He shared that as a young boy he was drawn to have an inquisitive mind for animals, but as he grew older he opted to take up Nursing to make his mother proud.

After a year, he fully developed the passion for Nursing after having a heartfelt and moving experience with a six-year-old patient in a barangay he was assigned in.

His patient who lived with her grandmother exhibited poor motor skills. She had a hard time balancing, catching a ball, and walking in a straight line. By the time he gave suggestions to the girl’s grandmother to see a pediatrician, eat balanced meals, and adopt cognitively engaging activities like reading and writing, he was informed that the young girl was traumatized after witnessing how her parents were arrested a year ago. The girl is said to have not been able to eat decently ever since.

He thought that student nurses who hoped to find patients who do not fit the normal standards of what it is to be healthy were selfish and wrong, but it dawned on him that what he took for selfishness was a necessity. He said that nurses needed to find despair and to empathize because they are capable of taking it away from people who suffer from it. 

He said that his love for the complexities of animals is still etched in him, but the birth of understanding; the even more complex matrix required to even scratch the surface to care for humans was a new passion.

He said that the world needs nurses, and it will continue permanently with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. He said that empathy is the universal starting point for people affected by any disease or illness to start healing. He said nurses are capable of giving it since empathy is an art and science nurses are trained for. (JDF)

Lagahit’s entry entitled “Empathy” is found below.

“Empathy”

by

Calvin Dhame C. Lagahit

I vividly recall pestering my parents to buy me sets of encyclopedias and other animal adorned book jackets I laid my eyes on whenever we visited the fully booked store. This inquisitive drive for knowledge came from my stubborn need to understand why animals, in all its plethoric variations, were so different yet still categorically boxed as beings that were levels below humans. My mother, although charmed with my little boy fantasies, wasn’t the most supportive about my endeavors. Fast-forward 13 years later and I found myself caught in an ultimatum to study either Biology, the field I‘d spent most of my free time manifesting to fruition, or the unthinkable alternative, Nursing. The choice was linear for me obviously, but against my better judgement and need to let my mother’s “little boy” be proud of him [sic], I opted for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. I spent many days convincing myself that the degree’s inclination to cater the living was no different from a life science degree, but I was wrong. The difference was stark, I was disheartened about my decision. That however, changed completely after a year. 

In my second year, we had the opportunity to engage with communities. I was assigned in Barangay Punta where I met my 6-year-old patient. She lived with her grandmother, had big beady eyes, slender arms and legs, a small body frame, and a short stature. After a routine test to assess her development, I couldn’t ignore the evident stagnation of her fine and gross motor skills. She failed generally easy tasks like balancing on a leg for two seconds, catching an inflatable ball at close proximity, and walking in a straight line. As student nurses, we’re expected to get excited about patients that deviated from what’s standardly “healthy”. This to me was selfish. Willingly hoping to meet someone suffering from conditions that make living painful was wrong. I wasn’t the least bit excited about finding a “good” case, but I owe it to that girl and her family for the life-changing experience that made me see “nursing” in a different light. A day after, I visited them again to present my interventions. It wasn’t anything dramatic or difficult. I suggested that she see a pediatrician, eat balanced meals, and adopt cognitively engaging activities like reading and writing. The moments following my presentation were gut-wrenching. Her grandmother, teary-eyed, explained that this child witnessed both her parents get arrested at the age of 5. Traumatized by the loud blares of the sirens, she is petrified and cries uncontrollably at the sight of police cars. Despite her current family’s efforts, she hasn’t been able to eat decently ever since. I was at a complete loss for words. No simulations or return demonstrations could have prepared me for this. In that moment, I was supposed to be someone who can empathize and mediate all this concern, stay level-headed enough to assess and regurgitate significant information, and remain emotionally separate. I did what I thought I should’ve done at the time and told the family to seek help, it was so simple but their gratitude was overwhelming. They gave us potted plants and invited me over for lunch. As I politely declined their offer and bid my farewell, I could feel all the emotions welling up from the encounter and broke down in tears when I was completely out of sight. At the end of our shift, I still couldn’t wrap my head from what had happened. Is this what nursing was? An opportunity to be a therapeutic presence to someone at their most vulnerable? Do we voluntarily go through all that cacophonous turmoil of emotions with the hopes of saving someone? It dawned on me then that what I initially mistook for selfish was a necessity. Nurses needed to look for despair because they’re the only ones capable of taking people out from it. My love for the complexities of animals are still etched within me, but the birth of understanding the even more complex matrix required to even scratch the surface to care for humans was a new passion I became obsessed with. The world needs nurses, and it will continue to need them to no end. With the recent ongoing of the COVID 19 pandemic, I find myself looking back at that moment thinking what people like them need now more than ever. The universal answer I can only think of is the art and science that Nurses are trained for, empathy.


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