I was accompanying two colleagues on rounds in the hospital and we were at the bedside of a critically ill patient who was in the intensive care unit with a very serious infection. Often patients in the ICU are so sick they have a breathing tube that is allowing a machine to breathe for them and this was the case for her. Up until that point I had only seen her as a very sick young patient. As part of a routine examination my colleague leaned over and raised her eyelids one at a time. As he did the light over-head reflected in her eyes as it would have if she had been awake and alert. Under other conditions you would have said she had a twinkle in her eye. And just as quickly her eyes were closed again as if a curtain fell to end a brief play. But in that split second I saw her not as a very sick patient but as a vibrant young woman. I imagined her smiling and laughing. It made me think of how much importance we place in what we see in someone’s eyes; the joys and the sorrows.
If as they say, the eyes are the windows to the soul, then I hope she knows that for an instant I saw her fully, despite the drugs, the sedation and the breathing tube.
I felt her spirit.