The month of October includes a time to celebrate the courage and contributions of respiratory therapists during Respiratory Care Week. This year’s theme is “Respiratory Care, Changing the World One Breath at a Time.” Picking up on the “one breath” concept, the next few entries of this blog celebrate our esprit de corps. My hope is to challenge, encourage and inspire. So, take a deep breath, and keep up the great work!
Chief Seattle of the Suquamish Tribe said, “…all things share the same breath — the beast, the tree, the man… the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.” Behind the blood gas values, ventilator checks and nebulizer treatments lies the true motivation of the respiratory therapist — life-giving breath. It is why we get up in the morning and stay late in the evening. And it is a sacred trust!
It is not by accident that breathing is an integral part of the world’s dominant spiritual disciplines, and though scientific, evidence based practice is the hallmark of modern medicine, the respiratory therapist remains the guardian and caretaker of that life-giving spirit in man. We are the shamans and the gurus, the practitioners and subject matter experts concerning the one thing without which every man dies, regardless of what else is working in the human physiology. Indeed, for our patients, are we not gods and angels — every day and in countless ways sustaining life and warding off death? Sure, we render this service as part of a dedicated team of physicians, nurses, therapists and technicians, but this is our part! What other profession is this inspirational? So, my friends, be enthused! Be proud! And say with Black Elk of the Lakota at the end of every shift: “When I breathed, my breath was lightning!”