The healing power of love.
Subject: Nurse and patient (Psychological aspects)
Nurse and patient (Management)
Patients (Care and treatment)
Patients (Psychological aspects)
Patients (Management)
Pub Date: 02/01/2012
Publication: Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032
Issue: Date: Feb, 2012 Source Volume: 18 Source Issue: 1
Topic: Event Name: Christchurch, New Zealand Earthquake, 2011 Event Code: 290 Public affairs; 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand
Accession Number: 282425942
Full Text: I will be healed by nurses' loving care." That was Anne Malcolm's prediction just one week after the earthquake, as she lay in bed in Ward 19 at Christchurch Hospital. with massive injuries. She was one of the first people to be pulled from the wreckage of the CTV building.

With the first anniversary looming, Malcolm does not resile from that statement. "Indeed I was. Right throughout the year, I have been incredibly welt looked after. People say 'you are a miracle' but I survived with the love and care, expertise and attention of nurses. My every need was catered for."

With a fractured femur and pelvis, a detached left shoulder, broken fibs, a spinal injury and the tendons in her fight arm severed, Malcolm was totally dependent. For the first two-and-a-half weeks after the earthquake, she remained in Ward 19. "It was a pretty bleak time and I so appreciated the flexibility that allowed family members to stay overnight There was never a moment they were not welcome."

She was transferred to Burwood Hospital where, very gradually, her rehabilitation began. She remained there for 10 weeks and "literally found my feet".

What is etched in her memory is the "love and care and empathy of the nurses. Over the years, I'd heard nursing had become far more technical and nurses the purveyors of that technology. But I didn't experience that at art. I found an absolute patient focus from nurses. As I observed them individually, they were looking out for each of us, It was my first experience as a patient and I received the same patient-focused care throughout my stay, and from ancillary staff as well. I was totally reliant on those nurses and they kept my spirits up. It was an extraordinary time for them too. With their own lives shattered, and coping with broken homes and liquefaction, I marvelled at how they could be so attentive to me."

Malcolm said that white in hospital she was totally focused on her physical recovery but, once discharged and finding her own way in her home environment, she was "ambushed" by the psychological impact of her ordeal. A Relationship Services counsellor, she surprised herself by not coping. "I couldn't sleep ... it was fairly traumatic." She re-contacted a psychologist at Burwood Hospital who helped her psychological recovery. "We got through it. Psychologically, I'm okay now. Physically, I've required more surgery. I've had to have a hip replacement; I have the use of my right arm and pretty good movement in my left shoulder. I can now drive the car. My physical recovery has been pretty miraculous and I also pay tribute to the expertise of those orthopaedic surgeons. One told me that re-attaching the severed tendons in my right arm was like putting rubber bands on jellymeat."

This month, Malcolm will begin transitioning back to part-time work, with a new and very personal understanding of post-traumatic stress. "I had known it in theory and through the tires of others but my understanding is very much deeper now."

She knows in her counselling work she will be dealing with personal and relationship trauma triggered by the February and continuing earthquakes. "The December 23 quake certainty rocked us. Until then there was a feeling that the quakes were coming to an end; that we were getting better physically and psychologically and that the earth was settling. But people are back to not trusting again; to being wary of what's next."


She is not fearful of the coming anniversary. A senior administrator with Relationship Services died on February 22 and time will be spent remembering her. "It will be a significant day but I am not fearful. It is important to move forward, to celebrate that we are here and that life continues."
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.