Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Incredible Importance of Touch

Are you a touchy-feelie kind of person or more of a touch-me-not? I'm touchy-feelie. As a teacher, yes, I touch my students--non-sexually (don't even). I'll touch their hand, shoulder, or maybe even their head/hair. And I'm very forthcoming with hugs. 

When I took Gary Chapman's 5 Love Languages test, it was no surprise at all to find that TOUCH is my love language. 

Needless to say, touch is very important to me.

This past November and December, I got sick--again. This time, we determined that my gall bladder was the cause so I had my gall bladder removed in December. I was not at all worried or concerned. The same doctor who did my diverticulitis surgery seven years ago did my gall bladder surgery, so I was familiar enough with him to know that I was in good hands.

With that being said, though, I woke up in recovery crying. Sobbing, actually. I couldn't catch my breath. I'd done that before after both of my miscarriages and subsequent D&C's, but I was surprised to find myself so worked up after this pretty routine gall bladder removal surgery. When my nurse asked me if I was ok, I was able to breathe out that I needed her to hold my hand. When she didn't respond, I said it again, "I need someone to hold my hand," I sobbed.

I was told by my nurse that I was just fine, "I have two patients who need my attention, Polly. You'll be alright. Pull it together."

I want you to know that I am not trying to say anything negative about my post-op nurse. I'm sure she was doing her job and was maybe feeling pressure since the OR had gotten so far behind that morning. All of my nurses at Frye were fantastic and did everything in their power to make my day-surgery as painless and "easy" as possible.

What I am saying is that as a touchy-feelie person, it is no surprise that as soon as I came out of surgery, all I wanted was physical touch. I NEEDED someone to hold my hand or touch me in SOME way. I was almost desperate for it in the same way I was desperate for the pain medication. 

When I was asked who I wanted to see first, I asked to see my mom. (Even at 46-years old, when I'm sick, I still just want my Mommy. And I am NOT at all ashamed to say it.) When Mom arrived, she held my hand for a minute and then started doing the little things that needed to be done to help me get through my recovery so I could leave. But I kept grabbing her hand or reaching out just to touch her. She never pulled away or pushed me away, but she and dad were ready to get back home. So she needed me to do what the nurse told me so I could leave.

I will admit that it is difficult not to be offended when the person I am with is a touch-me-not or just a non-touchy-fellie person. I do tend to take it personally. I know that not everyone is like me and I can't expect everyone to want to touch as I do, but the plain and simple truth is that when I am confronted with a non-hugger, touch-me-not person, it cuts me to the quick and makes me feel as if the person is saying he/she doesn't want to touch ME.

It used to be something that would send me home in tears and/or sometimes cause me to fall into depression or to have an anxiety attack. In recent years, my God has given me the understanding that He created each and everyone of us to be different and in those differences, some people are just uncomfortable with non-sexual touch--touch outside of intimate, personal relationships. These people view any and all touch as invading personal space or possibly being too intimate. And that is simply who these people are.

Just as I am someone who is touchy-feelie.

I can't be offended because others are just being themselves, just as they can't (or shouldn't) get offended just because I am being myself. It boils down to respecting one another's boundaries. The greatest compliment I can and have received is when a non-touch person not only allows me to hug him/her, but he/she OFFERS me a hug willingly!!! I try not to force my touch on those who are uncomfortable, but as someone who feels touch is, quite possibly, the most important way of developing relationships, I hope those are on the receiving end understand that touch--for me--is just a part of who I am.