My heart sank as I read through the patient’s chart notes and ascertained that he was unable to communicate due to a tracheostomy.
Maybe I shouldn’t visit, I rationalized; It would be too much to impose on him this communication barrier. Deep down, however, I knew that it was my trepidation that was creating the real barrier.
I summoned a quick prayer and remembered to lean into the discomfort. Thirty minutes later, between English and Arabic, with the help of a pen and paper and a lot of signing, the sacred visit concluded. “Is there anything you need?” I asked softly before leaving.
He let out a small sigh and wrote on the paper, “Don’t need anything, just visits.” Tears sprang to my eyes.
He wanted conversation, communication, connection, and I wondered how many others assumed otherwise, like I did initially. “You got it,” I replied. He closed his eyes briefly and kept his hand over his heart in loving salam.
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