When disease strikes, we always forget the fate that lies within people’s hands. Throughout this pandemic, hands have become dangerous, almost destructive weapons, needing to be disinfected and gloved at all times. Healing hands must regain their place in care.
The hand itself is an instrument of every moment, it is used for everything: eating, grasping things, pushing yourself up, feeling textures or changes in temperature. Right there, at arm’s length, it performs a task, expresses an emotion, shields you from harm. When you exhibit a belligerent behaviour, it becomes a fist, when you take part in an illicit activity, you can be caught red-handed, when confused, your left hand may not know what your right hand is doing.
An instrument of many talents, a hand can paint, write, play music. Without hands, neither culture, art, nor poetry would exist. Hands preserve beauty, they shape materials into forms, they move to the music. They make signs with their fingers either to greet or say goodbye; in fact, they can deliver an infinity of messages.
Hands work and ache, they bleed, twitch, tear and pluck. You knead bread with your hands. You bring your hands together to applaud, to defend yourself, to seize someone in an embrace. You can be openhanded, reach your hand out or lend a helping hand. Couples hold hands. Hands bring people together. They become a point of junction between beings.
The safe and gentle hands of your mother and father, of your friends or loved ones, reassure and comfort. Hands also heal, for without them there is no surgery nor care. With spoken words, hands become a necessary instrument, a tool of action. Through spontaneous gestures, hands soothe and heal.
This is a true story, one of a patient who waits to know the extent of his injuries after an accident. The situation is critical, for he may die. A nurse is by his side and remains unimposing. She knows her role and knows what is coming: distress. She is simply present, speaking only needed words and holding his hand so ever gently. Her patient is already inexpressibly touched. He feels the caress of a finger, a soft touch on his hand. This act of compassion, which is both an expression of tenderness and a source of strength, is an indication that he must fight. Turning itself into the equivalent of an injection of courage, the connection with this feeling of humanity signals the beginning of his healing.
If technology can do great things, I think it needs to give hands their power back. We all look forward to the day when we no longer need to see nurses and doctors dressed like astronauts. Hands are the extension of the soul and of the heart, and this patient survived thanks to these healing hands.