Have you seen the commercials for the Infiniti? As we travel along life’s highways, the announcer reminds us that “the journey is the destination.” This also proves true in the medical field.
Having been a patient several times in my life, involving many recoveries from various surgeries, one specific surgery and recovery that sticks in my mind relates to this quote. At the age of ten years, I underwent a four-hour intense hip surgery that forced me to live in a body cast for a few months before relearning how to walk again. When the time arrived for me to begin physical therapy, using a walker, I recall the intense pain and difficulties I experienced.
Specifically, the physical therapist, Cindy, instructed, “Now, Kristen, all I want you to do is stand. You do not need to take any steps.”
After a few moments of painfully standing, I said, “I want to try walking.”
“Okay,” Cindy responded.
I took two steps and then had to rest.
From this as well as other recoveries, I find myself setting the “bar” high. For example, in the situation described above, I desired to walk across the room even though I had not walked for a few months. Thus, I learned that it was not as significant to walk across the room as it was to progress forward in the healing process. This event allowed me to recall a quote by Greg Anderson: “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”
In the Trauma/Neuro ICU, many of our patients and their loved ones endure “rollercoaster rides” during their time here, going two steps forward and then one step back. Hence, they wrestle with a plethora of emotions, including disappointment, joy, despair, relief, hope, and gratitude. Having observed and experienced the cycles on numerous patients’ care, we as caregivers have the unique privilege of describing and emphasizing the baby steps in the hospitalization process. The American novelist Don Williams, Jr. best summarizes it by stating: “The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet, our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”