"Holistic" - What does this mean to you? - page 2

by VickyRN Asst. Admin

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We hear the term "holistic" all the time, but what does this actually mean? Is this quality important or even worth trying to achieve? Is it relevant at all to the often harsh, tumultuous reality of modern bedside nursing or just... Read More


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    I have always viewed the term 'holistic' as 'whole-istic'---meaning that one approaches the patient as a 'whole' person and takes into account not only body, mind, and spirit, but culture, family, friends, and life experience. (In short, everything that makes us who we are.)

    I'll use a resident from my assisted living facility as an example: I learned very early in my association with this woman that all the medication in the world cannot "fix" a human being suffering from spiritual pain. She's lived with chronic pain for many years, but during the course of several rather lengthy discussions with her, I found that as life has become harder for her over the years, the worse the pain has become. Now her spouse of 56 years is dying in a nursing home across town, and the pain is intractable despite massive doses of fentanyl, Vicodin, Neurontin, and amitriptyline. She has always had fibromyalgia and arthritis; but it only became impossible to live with when her husband was transferred a couple of months ago.

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand why this is happening, or why medication alone cannot take away the pain. We are presently working with her on non-drug pain management methods, as well as providing willing ears to listen to her concerns; and between all of this, I have to say I think 'crying therapy' is helping her quite a bit. Thank heavens she is able to articulate her pain and distress; there are so many people who can't. And they are the ones who need a 'whole-istic' approach most of all.
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    http://www.ahna.org/email/editorial_night.html
    as everyone can see, these two celebrations are about florence nightingale. but what do we know about her? we know that she is considered the founder of modern nursing. she is one of the three people cited by history books as doing the most to alleviate human suffering in the nineteenth century. she was a social activist who did not believe in women's liberation, but neither did she believe that a woman's place was in the home. she believed that we should forget about gender when it comes to the use of human talent and let every man and woman contribute what is in them to achieve. but what is often not discussed about her is her emphasis on the psychological aspects of sickness which were far ahead of her time. her writings on the effect of the emotions and spirit on illness are what holistic nursing is all about. in her writings she says,



    "little things can aid in the patient's recovery; being able to see out of a window; keeping small pets such as a caged bird; a visit from a baby or small child; a piece of good news." (huxley, e. florence nightingale. g.p. putnam's sons, new york, 1975, pp. 188-189)
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    This is what comes to mind when I think of a holistic approach: When you ask your patient how she's doing today and she replies that her abdominal incision isn't hurting as much as yesterday, you repeat the question ("great, how are YOU doing today?") Knowing that beneath that gown may look like all the others but is unique and plays many roles, perhaps a sister, a mother, a teacher, a daughter, a spiritual being, a member of the community, a member of a culture, a member of a socio-economic group, oh... and a person that just had abdominal surgery.
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    Holistic means taking as much of th whole person into account when treating them for an illness. Mind, body, soul, spirit, culture, etc...Basically don't be a reductionist and merely focus on the measurable components. It surprises me at how many very smart people will adhere to such a small view of living things. I mean, just think about the universe and the fact that we are here in the first place is a miracle.
    J
  5. 0
    Quote from mjlrn97
    I have always viewed the term 'holistic' as 'whole-istic'---meaning that one approaches the patient as a 'whole' person and takes into account not only body, mind, and spirit, but culture, family, friends, and life experience. (In short, everything that makes us who we are.)

    I'll use a resident from my assisted living facility as an example: I learned very early in my association with this woman that all the medication in the world cannot "fix" a human being suffering from spiritual pain. She's lived with chronic pain for many years, but during the course of several rather lengthy discussions with her, I found that as life has become harder for her over the years, the worse the pain has become. Now her spouse of 56 years is dying in a nursing home across town, and the pain is intractable despite massive doses of fentanyl, Vicodin, Neurontin, and amitriptyline. She has always had fibromyalgia and arthritis; but it only became impossible to live with when her husband was transferred a couple of months ago.

    It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand why this is happening, or why medication alone cannot take away the pain. We are presently working with her on non-drug pain management methods, as well as providing willing ears to listen to her concerns; and between all of this, I have to say I think 'crying therapy' is helping her quite a bit. Thank heavens she is able to articulate her pain and distress; there are so many people who can't. And they are the ones who need a 'whole-istic' approach most of all.
    What a nightmare. Too bad she wasn't moved with her husband, or he left with her. Dying would be much nicer for him with her there, I'm sure. If they were together, she could feel a part of the process instead of feeling so powerless and alone.

    I know... there are surely "reasons" they were seperated, but in the end... they were seperated. I wonder what is so unusual about his dying that he has to do it without his wife?


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