Monday, July 04, 2016

Unanticipated Care

Yesterday, I simply couldn't take it any more. The night had been hell, the day didn't seem to promise better. I woke Joe up and said, "I have to go to the hospital." I had developed a small cough on Tuesday of last week which had gotten worse, day by day. I'm not someone who runs to the doctor, or anywhere really, I figured it was just a summer cold. But when I got up from that night, I knew I was really sick.

We got ourselves together and entered the hospital at 8:30 AM. I was sick, and scared. I absolutely trust my doctor, he's proven himself over and over and over again to be a smart, kind and compassionate man. I feel safe going to his office. I don't feel safe going into a hospital in a vulnerable state to be dealt with by strangers. My weight and my disability bring forth prejudices in all sorts of places, but, my oh my, have I had my share of a medical system that can't hear my symptoms because they've already determined them.

We see the triage nurse first. She is a bit surprising. She asks me questions about my cough, in response to the question, 'have you been out of the country' I answered, 'yes,' she looked up concerned, 'where?' I said, 'Pennsylvania' a small smile told me that this wasn't as 'out of the country' as she might have first thought. After a few more questions she told me I'd need a room and that they were stacked full but she'd get me in when she could.

Happy Pride Day!!

I realized I'd left my work phone at home so Joe went to get it. Vita was in the parade and I wanted to be in contact with them throughout the day. Just after he left, I was invited in, a room had become vacant. I'd been there, maybe 10 minutes. Once in the room, I had to organize it so there was room for both my chair and the bed. Joe got back, quickly having taken a taxi home and back, and just sat down when a woman came in with an ECG machine (the thing where they put sticky things around your heart and then attach you to it. It looked like they were doing an experiment on my left boob) and in a quick and friendly manner explained that she was not my assigned nurse but as my nurse was busy, she thought she'd help out. That done. Then blood drawn. Then goodbye. Two seconds later I was taken to the xray room where a really young woman, they are getting so very, very young, guided me through the process of getting an xray while in the chair.

Back in the room, we quietly read for about ten minutes when the doctor arrives. I have pneumonia. I told you I was sick. He wants to wait for the blood work but as I'm relatively healthy, he wasn't worried. He left promising a prescription, a note for work and a thing to take to my doctor.

All through that, all through, I was treated like a patient. I was listened to. I was asked questions about my symptoms not my body. I was spoken to with both respect and kindness. One by one my fears were proving, in this case, I'm not naive, to be groundless.

Just before 11 we were out. On the way out I wanted to thank someone, not just for the service but for how it was performed. I wanted them to notice, because good people don't, that they had been good people. They had treated me with respect.

But, when I came out of the room, there was no one there to thank, I went to the triage nurse but there was another person there. So, I just left, carrying my thanks in my heart.

I had not been degraded.

I had not felt dismissed.

I had feared for nothing.

I've mentioned him to you before, and I'm sad I can't remember his name, but just after becoming disabled I was giving a lecture in Glasgow somewhere. I spoke with a man who unlike me had been born with his disability. I asked him for advice, as from a mentor, he said, "Don't ever get in the habit of being grateful for what other people simply expect." That has really stayed with me. I see a wisdom behind it. But I failed him as I left the hospital, I did feel grateful.

I had been treated well.

And I was back on the road to becoming well.

All in a couple of hours.


painting with fire said...

Hope you' feel better quickly and so glad the hospital trip did not live down to expectations!

Unknown said...

So glad that your care in the ER was just that - competent assessment of symptoms to arrive quickly at diagnosis and a plan for treatment, with respect for the patient and caring for a person who was ill and dependent on your team for help. Nothing more...and nothing less.
What's seldom, is wonderful.
Drink lots of fluids, rest as much as you can manage...feel better soon, Dave.

ABEhrhardt said...

I long for the time when people who are different can truly relax and just expect to be taken as people.

I'm glad your experience was good - you needed that.

But your fears don't come from nowhere: they come from experience, and from listening to the stories of others with experience.

'The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.' Freedom from fear, too.

An actual note to the hospital - or forwarding them a copy of this column - would be good. They get SO many complaints.

Rosemary said...

Feel better soon, Dave. So glad you had respectful, professional care. We are all certainly entitled to that.

Unknown said...

I have to say I disagree with the idea of not being grateful... whether it is for something that "other people" simply expect or not. Be grateful. Be thankful. Disability or not. I am thankful, as is my son, for the people in his life who saw/ see beyond the disability, beyond the wheelchair. Those people- their actions, their words- teach others, show others, CHANGE others...and our world becomes a better place because they are respectful, kind, and treat everyone as being deserving of dignity and consideration.