Joel Swerdlow, in an article titled “Unmasking Skin” in National Geographic, described the non-verbal communication he experienced with his 86-year old mother after she collapsed and was admitted to the hospital.
When I walk into her hospital room, I lay my cheek on hers and lift her fingers into the palm of my hand. Although one of her eyes is partly open, the doctor says that she may not be able to see or hear me.
I try to comfort her by talking, singing songs from my childhood, or just sitting quietly. I'm not sure what she can sense, but her skin feels warm and normal. I keep my fingers on her arm or cheek, anything to let her know that she is not alone and that she is loved. I realize that our only unbroken connection now is through touch. We are skin to skin, warmth to warmth. According to the textbooks, transduction within the skin is transforming physical energy to neural energy. But something far more important is occurring. Love and memory are flowing through my skin and into her dreams.