Friday, October 23, 2009

They hold you by your fear (thanks Tracie)

Shockingly, I am a very bad patient in the hospital. Last visit, I got up at 4:00am, put my soccer clothes back on, and asked the charge nurse to call me a cab. I believe I said: "Excuse me, I know you guys work really hard on all of this but it isn't working out for me...can you please call me a cab? She gave me earplugs instead.

This visit, which occured on Wednesday from 11:45 pm until Thursday at 5:36pm, did not go much better. I was in the ER for 12 hours and as an active participant, would like to give the following feedback:

1. You do not need to put an inflatable blood pressure cuff on a depleted patient which will inflate very 15 minutes and absolutely insure they get no sleep whatsoever. When said patient gets up in the middle of the night and rips off the cuff, go easy with your response.
2. Keep toilet paper in the bathroom that is servicing 60 people, one of whom clearly has malaria.
3. When your patient says "I have May Thurner Syndrome" do not say "I have to go look that up."
4. Thanks to the nurses for the warmed up blankets, the contraband coffee (against the resident's orders), and the extra johnny, strategically placed. You guys and gals make a very difficult environment almost tolerable.

For the MRI technicians, when you ask your patient if she is "singing along" during the MRI, and then tell her that she is "breathing wrong and messing up the images" she will come out of the tube in an ill humor. Please do not then blame her ill humor on the fact that "not everyone can make it through an MRI.'' With compassion and patience, we can all make it through being a patient but only if our guides have compassion and patience.

Thanks to the dudes who wheeled me back and forth from test to test. I loved hearing about your granddaughter, your son, and even your assault and battery charges on your ex-wife's boyfriend. It kept me preoccupied and reminded me that we all have our struggles.

Thanks to the attending neurologist, who left no stone unturned and no test not ordered. After experiencing neurological symptoms, it was very reassuring to know that no part of my body was harboring a clot.

Being a patient is so humbling and such a great dress rehearsal for the fragility of aging. The Buddhists lay it out pretty clearly in the first noble truth: Life is suffering. They are not wishing it on anybody, but we are all in samsara, suffering together, decaying together, and ultimately, moving beyond this lifetime. I feel trapped in a hospital, held by my fear. The trick is to not hate the hospital, but hate the fear. I'm working on it.

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