“I recognize you. What are you doing here?” The scrub-garbed young man said. Incredulous. “Didn’t we take care of you?”
His eyes never left the computer screen, though they went wide as the doctor’s notes answered his question.
Then he didn’t dare look at me, not that I uttered a word. “No” didn’t have to come from my lips as his facial expression turned to dread. He turned from the test results and wheeled my husband’s gurney to the CT room. For the scan and ultra sound tests that should have been ordered when we flew to the ER the first time, several days before.
I gave my husband’s hands a squeeze, his lips a kiss as he was ferried away. His septic body shook and shook and shook, as it had been for many minutes. My hands mirrored the movement and I clasped them to hold myself together. I prayed.
For those new to know me and as reminder to those who already do: my book, STASHES, published in 2014, began as a rant: “Whatever happened to earn?”
I shifted the axis of the rant as I researched, reasoned, and wrote over the course of four years. It’s part of the process, isn’t it, fellow contemplators and writers? Understanding and empathy were gained.
And, as the world revolves, humanity evolves.
However, it took several steps backward in our experience December 16 – 21, 2016. As part of the one of the world’s all-around-worst years, my husband received cavalier care during a protracted medical crisis.
The young people who staffed the nearby Emergency Room (ER) and its adjoining hospital were all Millennial-aged. In love with their identical white, sleek, and uber-cool personal-access-to-medical-records-and-patient-data computers on wheels, complete with attached chair so they didn’t have to get off their asses, physically as well as socially, to care.
They reminded me of the fat slob characters aboard the space craft in Wall-E.
And, they clearly didn’t care. The entitled child who thinks not of earn, but only of his/her personal needs, the impact that he/she expects with no idea how to achieve. “I have no patience for patients. Who cares? Not me. Who’s dispensing my M&Ms?” one could almost hear their backs say.
Believe me. I had plenty of time to survey the space across several hours span TWICE within days. The local ER was not bereft of staff or high tech. Numerous young men and women in crisply starched uniforms, lollipop-colored and arrayed across the space like a Candyland board game, convinced my outrage. An ER is a place of great purpose, but none present seemed to aspire.
A rapid, glib diagnosis by a male nurse (the one mentioned in medias res) who cursed his drive from Diamond Bar just to have this job… his tone denoted his thoughts of the job as ‘below his station’. Too self-involved to provide eye contact and personal regard. No comprehensive exam, not even a WebMd consult to check my husband’s clearly-stated symptoms, his guarded posture, and his pain level of 11 on the accepted scale of 1-10. His body worked like one of The Who’s famous Marshall amps…
“Who are you?” rang in my ears. Who are you? disengaged, dispirited, disinterested young staff…
I sat in helpless witness, my insights and requests of my husband’s behalf ignored, even shouted down with raging finger points, over the course of the hours. Had spouse chauvinism set in?
After the first failed trip my husband endured a weekend, gritting through monstrous, yet thankfully intermittent pain. A religious Christmas concert was high point, but the rest was low, low, low. Scared to bits and pieces. Our Christmas cd selection swelled our home, choirs of peace and joy to bolster ours. It was hard to feel the reason for the season.
Then a second ER trip Monday afternoon, taken by ambulance and EMTs who ruled out heart attack again, but whose entre didn’t foster concern or care with the lax staff. Yeah, the same nurse and doc, who greeted us, “I recognize you… Didn’t we take care of you?”
Uh, nope. We just like visiting this sumptuously comfortable place. What’s on the dining menu tonite?
The cadillac care that saved my husband’s life arrived in the form of Boomer-aged physician friends, a trio that he and I will forever cherish. They were thorough, attentive, majestically informed, professional, and calm. Tests were ordered, a surgeon called in, and emergency-with-urgency care settled in.
The trio saved my husband’s life.
Today the 15 incision staples are gone, the incision’s heat has paled, the residual tape of multiple bandages expunged with Goo-Gone, and spirits revived. The surgeon, internist, and GI specialist have examined my husband post-operatively and proclaimed him fully on the mend. But the fright will be forever on his mind.
Thanks for enduring my rant, friends. Writing helps me to process my feelings, quivering fresh from three weeks ago. Hope your experiences have been different, terrific, and with outcomes joyous.
I’m all about Hope in 2017. Yet. But. Still…
Whatever happened to Concern? Being responsible and responsive. Human being earned.