Everyone was a little bit shocked. They all looked at me like I was an unreasonable, errant child. "Well, if that's what you'd like," she said as she got up and left the room. The nurse, who sat across the desk from me sat waiting an explanation.
What had happened was this ...
I had just spent about an hour with the endocrinologist who had asked me a thousand personal questions ... including about my pee pee ... and I sat answering all of them, uncomfortable and shy about some, upfront and forthright about others. She sat writing things down in my file showing little or no reaction to anything I said. Well, except maybe mild disbelief when I told her that the rise in my blood sugar was not related to diet. I've been quite rigourous and my sugar had been well under control until the last six months when no matter what I ate, it was high. When she was done, I was scheduled to see the nurse who would teach me how to give myself insulin injections.
That meant another wait in the waiting room. An elderly disabled woman had a bit of a heart thing and then when that was settled returned to her book. Joe did his crossword and I sat there thinking about how my life had just changed, yet again. I had desperately wanted to keep the diabetes undercontrol with diet and pills but that had failed. I don't like needles particularly and could not imagine giving myself one.
The nurse came, bent over me as I sat in my wheelchair and said, "Well, we're going on insulin are we?" I was immediately annoyed. Firstly, 'we' aren't 'I' am. Secondly why should everyone in the waiting room know my business? I said nothing and we all trooped down a long hallway to an oddly shaped office at the end.
There was the nurse, then Joe beside me and a woman I had not met and did not know sitting in the chair behind me. The nurse launched into her spiel without introducing either herself or the woman sitting behind me. I put my hand up indicating for her to stop. She did, a flash of anger crossing her face. "Who is the woman sitting behind me?"
"Oh," answered the woman behind, "I'm a nurse from the hospital and I'm just here today to see the services offered through the diabetes clinic. I'm just sitting in, if that's ok with you."
Well, it might have been if I had been introduced to her and been asked. It might have been if the nurse had even bothered to introduce herself to me. It might have been if the nurse hadn't blurted out private information in a public forum. It might have been if she was sitting where I could see her. It might have been if I was doing anything but learning how to give myself a needle and was afraid I was going to weep like a toothing child.
"No, it's not," I said, "I value my privacy."
All eyes looked at me in shock. Even so, the observer left. And the nurse began again, a little more careful know, seeing that she had a patient that wasn't in awe of it all, wasn't captituatling to everything.
I put my hand up again. She stopped. "Who are you?"
"I told you I am the nurse," she stated.
"Surely you have a name."
"I already introduced myself," she said.
"No, you haven't."
Introductions over we continued.
There is so little room for personal control as one enters the world of disability. So little room to assert what's yours. So little privacy. So little respect for boundaries. I was tired when we left, but was glad that I'm a cantankerous old guy who still knows how to speak his mind. I'm glad that I left with a little bit of me preserved, untouched by question, unobserved by prying eyes, undocumented in a file.