Friday, February 10, 2012

Being a patient

I have given myself the title of 'Professional Patient' which I believe I deserve because I spend so much of my life going for some kind of medical treatment. I was faced with this sad fact yesterday when I went for a medical adventure for my back.

All my back medical adventures and all my surgeries check in at the same area so you can guess I am very familiar with the process. Stop and check in at the main desk upstairs - which is very silly as all they ever do is check your name off on a piece of paper and then tab through a million fields on the computer, never asking a single question. You just stand there (which is not a piece of cake with my back these days), then they take their ruler and check you off on the piece of paper and draw a line underneath your name. Then they turn to the computer and tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, tab, you get the point. Finally my back hurts and they say 'you're all set, go down to the second floor, and go through the blue doors and check in there'. I don't wait for them to say more than the first three words, before leaving. I know where I am going. I always take the stairs down as there usually is a wait for the elevator but yesterday the doors magically opened on a down elevator just as I was walking by it.

I go down to the second floor and check in at the desk there, which means writing my name on a piece of paper and checking off that I am in pain, yes I have someone to take me home, there is no chance I am pregnant, and sit down in a comfy chair. A nurse comes out and gets me. Yesterday I went in the right door - that's for people who have to change into the 'lovely' hospital gown, robe and little booties (apparently these are meant to be ugly so no one will steal them). If you go in the left door, it means you get to keep on your regular clothes. After changing, you sit down in another chair - except yesterday they were ready for me before I was ready for them so I made them wait for a minute.

The nurse said to me 'Do I know you from some where?' 'Um, no, I'm just here a lot. This is my fourth visit since October.' 'Are you sure? Do you work here?' 'No. I just visit a lot.' That was just the first nurse, then there is the nurse who takes you to the procedure room and back out - she's nice with the long Greek last name (she's not Greek, her husband is), and the other nurse who was in the pre-op area. I know them all. Now they recognize me too.

While I was waiting my turn for a little medical fun, an employee tripped and fell right behind me. I didn't see the fall but the Greek named nurse did. All I can say if you fall, be sure to fall in a hospital as five nurses came running with gauze for blood, ice packs, a wheel chair etc. They insisted the fallen employee take a seat in the chair across from me - I knew her too. She is the woman who is the friend of one of the women from my support group and preps women for the breast biopsies and ultrasounds. She's very nice and funny. And was really mad at herself for the big to do over her little fall - but was happy for the ice on her hand and chin.

That was just yesterday. I recognize a lot of the others - the nurse in endocrinology who clearly came from some former Eastern European republic as she has the accent and a very cranky attitude. Or the nurses up in pain management are very nice - the one who schedules the 'medical adventures' is very accommodating as well as good at finessing the system as needed. The check-in desk for orthopedics has very nice fake flowers that I always admire while waiting in line.

The hospital has nicely added flat screen TVs to many waiting rooms in recent years so we are no longer stuck with 'do I flip through this boring magazine or try to avoid looking at other people moments' we can gaze stupidly at the 'boob tube'. There is a piano in the lobby and occasionally there is someone there playing it as well.  I have preferred parking areas in the giant garage. I hate that dilemma - where is the damn car? I try to park consistently so I can find it again without overtaxing my tiny brain.

The cafeteria has been upgraded and they nicely label which ones are heart healthy and provide many calorie and fat gram counts. But they also sell cookies and chips if you have a 'bad' appointment and need some sustenance. The best cell phone reception is in the cafeteria by the windows. The reception in the lobby borders between awful and non-existent. And there is free wi-fi everywhere.

I think I visit there too much. I recently had a month of no visits. That is now over. I go back for another round of medical fun on Monday. I can't wait.


CourtneyP said...

Hi Caroline, this is a great blog! It's very courageous to face your disease head-on and not only fight your battles, but record it for others to read and learn from. I applaud you! Do you happen to have a personal email address that I could contact you with?

Thank you!

Caroline said...

CourtneyP - if you leave me your email, I'll send you a message. I don't want to post my email on my blog or I'll just get too many messages here.

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