Before breaking my neck and becoming a quadriplegic in the Summer of 1995, I used to be a very active and independent person. At the age of 12, I proudly announced to my parents that I had gotten a job as a babysitter. At the time of my accident, I was a dental assistant. I had landed my dream job! I used to love every minute of it.

Needless to say, it was very hard to go from being an independent twenty-four year old to a wheelchair-bond quadriplegic. Having to rely on other people for virtually everything was, especially in the beginning, very hard to adjust to.

Recently, while working with a very kind and caring energy psychology practitioner, I realized that I had 'buried' a painful memory about my stay in the hospital after my accident.

While I knew that my injury was severe, I did not know that I would never walk again. The person that delivered the news to me was a female doctor. Her bedside manners were anything but compassionate. I clearly remember her telling me "you're never going to walk again" in a very matter-of-fact tone of voice. I began crying, and she simply looked away and left the room. It was as my life didn't count, it was as if I didn't matter. I wasn't expecting her to hold my hand and cry with me. A simple "I'm sorry" while making eye contact would have been greatly appreciated.

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of showing compassion and empathy, especially in the medical community. We now know that how a patient perceives a situation has a direct effect on how the immune system responds and operates. We now know that the immune system is directly affected by our emotions. If this sounds too far-fetched, I recommend googling the word "biofeedback".

Doctors and mental health professionals need to understand that the importance of a kind word should never be underestimated. I am in no way suggesting that doctors should lie to their patients in order to make them feel better. That would be unethical. It has nothing to do with lying; it's all about compassion and empathy. It's about putting themselves in the shoes of the patient, acknowledging their humanity and understanding their emotions.

I'm not suggesting that all, or even most, doctors are uncaring. I have met a lot of dedicated and caring doctors and nurses who go the extra mile for their patients. I honor their dedication.

I am a big believer in modern medicine and science, and I am very grateful for all the medical treatment that I have received, particularly after my accident. I don't think I would have survived breaking my neck in a country that is not up-to-date with spinal cord related injuries. Therefore, I have a lot to be grateful for.

The reason I felt compelled to write about this particular subject is simply because I felt the need to state what seems so obvious: That it is extremely important to show compassion, especially to people that are in vulnerable situations. We should not underestimate the impact of a kind word or gesture.

Author's Bio: 

Shannon Nelson lived with chronic pain for six years. She turned to ‘alternative medicine’ out of desperation; and it was simply life-transforming for her. She is not a proponent of energy medicine and energy psychology as an alternative to traditional/modern medicine. She prefers to call it complementary medicine. Modern medicine saved her life. Complementary medicine saved her sanity, literally. She would like to invite you to join her in this healing journey at hotchocolateforthespirit.com