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Authors

  1. YOUNG-MASON, JEANINE EdD, RN, CS, FAAN

Article Content

Lorand Gaspar, a surgeon and poet in Tunisia, has reflected deeply upon the nature of suffering and the need for understanding and compassion. And in those reflections he provides us with a philosophy for enduring our own suffering and the ability to assist our patients in theirs. The following excerpts are drawn from his "Hospital notes."

 

During one of those late night moments, when the faces of some of my patients seemed to parade in front of me with their stories of tragic or happy endings, I wrote this in one of my notebooks: "it seems as if suffering-the kind which does not annihilate what is essentially human in us-permitted the strongest (those who by luck, thanks to their genes or aptitudes and external circumstances) to build a bit of their strength of soul whereas it often destroys others. The value of suffering, if there is any, lies not in the pain, but in the new awareness and essential understanding of life that it seems capable of inducing in some people."1(p157)

 

I recently heard a child suffering from mucoviscidoses say, with the disconcerting maturity that serious illness gives to children, that he knew that his days were limited, however, even under these conditions, he considered it better to be able to live (and to do everything to continue, even if it were very difficult) than to have known nothing of life. What exact reality lay behind these words, this discourse suited to an adult, I do not know, but the emotional intensity of this child in saying this is unforgettable to me. Surrounded by suffering and death, he seemed only to care about life.2(p174)

 

References

 

1. Gaspar L. "Hospital notes." In: Critical Moments: Doctor and Nurse Narratives and Reflections. Bloomington Ind, 1st Books Publishers; 2003:157. [Context Link]

 

2. Gaspar L. "Hospital notes." In: Critical Moments: Doctor and Nurse Narratives and Reflections. Bloomington Ind, 1st Books Publishers; 2003:174. [Context Link]