Nurses naturally tend to be pretty empathetic people. But Megan Pohlmann is a nurse with a rare condition called mirror-touch synesthesia. And this extremely rare condition means she can literally feel her patient’s physical and emotional pain!
Less than two percent of people have mirror-touch synesthesia (MTS). And God made Megan one of these special people for a specific purpose. She uses this fascinating neurological condition to give her patient’s the very best care.
The ability to feel her patient’s emotions and, to some extent, pain, allows Megan to truly emphasize and be a patient advocate.
“For me, if I see you, I know you,” the mom of three explained.
But living with MTS isn’t always easy. For example, public settings where a number of different emotions are happening at once can be incredibly taxing.
"Just walking around every day I feel strangers hurting, and I feel it so thoroughly and completely,” Megan says. “Crowds are overwhelming sometimes. If I'm at a funeral where some people are devastated, others are relieved, still others are awkward, and kids don't understand, it's exhausting - I find it hard to manage everything at once. Mainly, I just want to reach out and help people."
Megan spent years figuring out how best to manage her MTS. In fact, it was a long time before she realized her intense empathy actually resulted from a genetic condition.
"I just thought I was overly sensitive," she said. "I'd mirror my mother's troubles and complex feelings I didn't understand or know what to do with. Things would bother me so much more than they did other people. I would stress for someone else, and I couldn't let it go because I would be so worried about them."
But God can use anything for good. And He had a special purpose for Megan’s unique connection to others!
God’s Special Purpose For Nurse With A Rare Condition
Megan realized the symptoms of her condition fit perfectly with the demands of the nursing profession. And she’s able to use it every day to better perform her job.
“I know I don't have the regular gut intuition everyone else does - I have something extra," she says.
Because she can pick up on a patient’s feelings without them saying a word, it sometimes allows her to identify problems others miss.
For example, every time Megan would tend to a baby in the ICU, she’d get headaches. This helped her and the doctors realize the baby was having an adverse reaction to the medication he was on.
Another time, she was taking care of a child who was passing away. Sadness filled the room, and Megan could feel the intense anxiety of the whole family, the physician, and the patient. But then they all sang “Jesus Loves Me.”
Megan was the first to realize the child had passed away because she could no longer feel him. As she notified the room, she could feel the anxiety disappear.
“Everyone was still very sad, but there was also such a burden lifted,” Megan recalls. “It gripped at my heart, but it was also one of the most beautiful experiences at the same time. It was like I got to feel a little bit of the peace that could be waiting when we leave this life.”
Megan now sees her rare condition as more of a gift rather than a burden.
“I couldn't function without my MTS-I rely on it so heavily," she said. "And I think if we all paid more attention to our empathy, that could solve a lot of problems. Sometimes just listening and acknowledging someone's feelings is enough to make a difference."
What a fascinating and inspiring woman!