DiversityNursing Blog

Storytelling and Healing

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, Aug 09, 2013 @ 10:53 AM

Storytelling and Healing

by 

The Navajo Sugar Monster

Long ago the Holy People predicted that a monster would take over the Navajos.

Our mothers and fathers would change…No longer were man and woman together.

One after another this monster ate away their faces.

It gnawed away Navajo identity….Everything turned from light to dark….Words ceased to exist.

The Holy People begin to cry.

The Navajo language meets its end…Mouths would soon close entirely.

X marked the spot….Over the eyes and mouths of the people.

The Navajo were not human anymore.

They were beings who craved only one thing

It was not water or food…Nor prayer or traditions…Nor love or family.

The Holy People were right.

Sugar is our monster.

A killer claiming Navajo lives…With a craving that could never be satisfied

Who are these monsters?

Mom? Dad?  Where are the elders? Where is my family?  Who will save us?

It’s going to claim the next generation if things don’t change…

We must stand and make a change…Stand up and fight against this monster

For you…For your family,

Your mother, Your father, Your children

For your Nation.”

by Chantelle Yazzie (A neo-traditional story published on Wellbound Storytellers.)

 

Native Peoples have higher rates of death by alcoholism (552%), diabetes (182%) and unintentional injuries (138%) than other Americans.  The story above is a neo-traditional story addressing the impact diabetes is having on the Navajo nation.  Neo-traditional stories are creations of today’s Native Americans; attempts at merging the old ways and addressing today’s problems.

Native American’s believe in the power of the story to heal.  Traditional healing stories are unique to particular nations and certain individuals, specifically elders and healers are the only ones who can tell these stories.

According to Teresa Lamsam, of Wellbound Storytellers, specific individuals have a responsibility for traditional healing stories. “Most of the stories that would be relevant [to healing] are considered to have healing within the telling of them — which is what creates the responsibility for the person who carries the story [the healer].  The person who receives the story [patient] also has responsibility.  Usually, a ceremony must accompany the story.”

Do you have a story to share about your experience with diabetes?  Can you create a healing story?

Source: Medivizor

Topics: minority, healing, storytelling, Navajo, Native American

Singing nurse integrates passions for music, medicine

Posted by Alycia Sullivan

Fri, May 17, 2013 @ 01:40 PM

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Susan Sonnichsen is looking forward to seeing Helen Cross, a patient with dementia who loves hymns. But Cross is having a rough day. Softly, Sonnichsen tells her, “I know something that will make you feel better. How about a song?’’

She starts in with “Joy in My Heart,’’ followed by “Old Rugged Cross’’ and then a favorite, “Amazing Grace.’’ Sonnichsen’s voice fills the space between nurse and patient. Slowly, Cross allows Sonnichsen to take her hand. “OK, we’re getting somewhere,’’ Sonnichsen says, smiling at Cross.

Sonnichsen has been singing ever since she was a kid belting out songs during family road trips. But in her 30 years in nursing, she never knew it could fit into her work. A dementia class for staff at Hospice of the Valley changed all that and today, music is as much a part of her care as is taking a patient’s vital signs.

“They love to sing along,’’ Sonnichsen says. “Even if they’re off key, it’s wonderful to engage them.’’ She prefers old gospel hymns and tunes from popular musicals, but happily takes requests and learns new songs. When a patient is close to death, she sings a lullaby and offers a gentle touch. When a family asks, she gladly sings at patients’ memorials. Some of her colleagues call her the singing nurse.

“Anyone who has enjoyed the experience of hearing Susan sing can attest that her ability to emote through music is a true gift,’’ says Hospice of the Valley social worker Donna Wetzel.

Sonnichsen says integrating her two callings, music and medicine, is a blessing.

“It’s amazing when patients join in with you. It just fills your heart,’’ she says. “It just touches you, makes you feel like that’s why you’re here.’’

Source: AZ Central

Topics: music, singing, dementia, nurse, medicine, healing

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