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Dignity & Vanity

Smiling, happy, attractive mature blond woman, looking at camera advertising anti age face skin and body care treatment cosmetics

It’s not often that I feel compelled to put pen to paper or in this case, dictate a blog article to Siri, but I’ve had some observations this week that I’d like to share.

In my patients, I’ve noticed, particularly but not exclusively with aging, a loss or possible loss of dignity.  This generally accompanies loss.  Loss of hair with aging or chemo, loss of bowel or bladder control, loss of sensation in limbs, loss of balance, loss of facial and muscle tone.

I just find myself feeling so compassionate towards my patients around this issue.  I tell them to be compassionate with themselves, to allow their bodies to age or heal or whatever is called for.  But I know this is not easy.  I know it’s not easy for my 90 something dad who lost his vision to not know how he looks, if his socks match, if his face looks shaven.  He’s a guy who was always interested in clothes and dressing “nice”.  I have to remind him of how nicely he still dresses, despite the fact that he himself cannot see this.  Or my patient who is wobbling because he has lost sensation in his legs and feet.  Or the patient who has just had a bad bout of shingles and has the facial scars to prove it.  Vanity.  These things tug at my heart.  It’s where the healer in me comes out.

Do we have to feel a loss of dignity with loss?  Or can we be kinder to ourselves as we would to another person?  Something to consider.

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