These days, the letter published in The New York Times by the writer Peter DeMarco has become viral. It is dedicated to the professionals of the ICU who cared for his wife the last week of her life. Laura Levis was 34 years old. If you have not read it yet, you can do so by clicking here. And when you can contain your tears (at least, we have cried until can´t be able to see the screen), you can keep up with this post.
In summary, in the text Mr. DeMarco thanked the ICU staff of the CHA Cambridge Hospital the exquisite way in which they were treated. It looks like to seem a “thank you letter” more, isn´t it?. However, nothing further from reality. It is a text to read again and again. Read to get excited, to enjoy the serene tenderness that transmits and to learn. Above all, to learn. Learning that dignity is fragile, indispensable, biographical; that it can be defended in the more extreme circumstances. And to do a critically review about what humanity deploy professionals to respect and protect the valuable dignity of each of our users. This is the great message of this letter.
Biographical dignity, not only as regards to the borders of the body. DeMarco narrates the contributions of professionals and, from our point of view, speaks of infinite respect that they showed for Laura´s biography. By the person she was. During her agony, Laura was not treated at any time as a reservoir of donating organs. Or at least her husband noticed it: she was the daughter of a parents who needed all the support to say goodbye; she was the wife of a person who needed support to pass through that experience without sinking; she was a woman articulated in a world with friends and taste in music. She was integrated into a social niche that needed to give their last farewell. Partner of a man who could spend a final moment of intimacy with her, before going to the operating room to give life to others.
Withouth a doubt, some of the care receiving by Laura and their loved ones can be more difficult to implement. And surely not all patients will require the intensity of care received by the social core of Laura.
From the IC-HU Project, we ask ourselves if we can affirm that respect for the biographical dignity of each one of our patients is a dominant culture in our units. We wonder if we calibrate systematically, what our patients and their families need from their eyes, from their history. We ask ourselves if we respect the biographical dignity from our individual clinical practice or if this is a priority of the team of health.
Dear reader: what do you think?. How would you like to be treated?. We have it clear.