learning to navigate the world, j-bear style

Dear Medical Staff

This is for you, the techs, the nurses and the support staff in medical offices and hospitals. I need you to understand something.

Compassion is what will save both sides a lot of stress.

Hear me out, please?

Yesterday, I spent the day in an emergency room. Again. This seems to be an almost yearly event and thankfully despite a very long day yesterday I actually have an answer as to why I keep having such similar problems year after year. This is good. Great, even. The visit sadly highlighted something else that needs even greater attention than what brought me to the ER.

I have bad veins. It’s a well noted fact, I have always and forever been a tough stick. There have been a few blessed phlebotomists who have quickly and relatively painlessly drawn blood or placed IVs on me but more often than not I leave situations like this appearing like I can barely retain water due to so many holes. It’s a mess. Fifteen years ago a particularly uncaring tech decided to dig around in my wrists for veins despite my protests. She rendered me unable to use my hands for several days, the pain was so great. I could not brush my hair. I could not do simple things for myself. It was upsetting that I was disregarded and rendered what felt like injured for so long and has stuck with me ever since.

Now, enter yesterday. A tall man my age or maybe a little younger approaches me. He’s with the IV team. He’s there to place an IV for fluids and blood draws. I submit to his efforts, already in pain hence my being in the ER to begin with. I ask what I always ask: Please avoid my hands if possible. I need to be able to function after all. He outright ignores me with a huff. Three sticks later, he goes for my wrist. I screamed. He cleaned up his stuff and huffed out of there declaring me impossible to stick.

I sat there and sobbed. A kind woman who works in the lobby brought me tissues.

This is for that fella, who later came back when I consented to do one last try for an IV and mocked me openly because I screamed:

You don’t know what PTSD is like. Your disregard for my simple request kicked off terror. You cannot help that you’re male and sadly, I cannot help the reaction of terror I had so acutely at your actions. If you had talked to me, treated me like a human being you would have known this. The ultrasound tech did just this and had me at ease and chatting amiably all through my test despite the fact I am usually wildly uncomfortable with strangers touching me.

You never took the single solitary moment to realize that most people aren’t drama queens, they react as they react for reasons. If it had been my son in your care, he would have done all I did and more because you’re a stranger touching him and not only are you touching him, you’re doing something he doesn’t entirely understand and it hurts! It’s a rare child that doesn’t freak out over needles, after all, and he is no different… there is just little to bring him back from that horror besides his dog right now. I cannot imagine the ugly things you’d have said about that, probably blowing off the fact he’d hear every word and understand you.

Just like I did.

Talk to your patients. Set them at ease. Show them care and understanding. It changes everything. There are nurses in that very hospital who I let one night spend the entire evening trying to get an IV in me for a test. I was covered in medical tape and holes, but they succeeded and even though it hurt and I was miserable, I could smile and laugh about it. Why? Because they all approached it with understanding, respect and when they realized humor helps me, humor. When you’re a good sport it really helps the person you’re working with be the same.

The funny little epilogue to this rant is that not ten minutes after this person left me declaring me impossible a young lady came along, got a blood draw done on me rapid fire and I never ended up needing an IV. Still got a diagnosis, still got taken care of, still survived to tell the tale.

1 Comment

  1. Mandy Krahenbuhl

    I find this to be VERY interesting…mainly because I work for the State of Wisconsin as a counselor who helps individuals with disabilities find a job, keep a job, or get a better job. Well after the FOURTH time of me stating that “so and so” was having a meltdown, panic attack, was triggered by PTSD symptoms, was having intense psychiatric challenges, a new physical diagnosis (like cancer as an example), had a sudden amputation during surgery and woke up without a leg…just some examples…..I ALWAYS deal with that issue and that issue ONLY as I see that as something that needs to be dealt with – how can you work if you are in a shitty spot, lets be honest here….after the FOURTH time of getting “in trouble” for spending too much time with someone and stating to my supervisor that I did it because I needed to show them empathy, compassion, and validation of their current situation. Then having my supervisor reply by stating that in my position working for the state that the “numbers” of successful closures (someone keeping a job for 90 days) is more important than compassion, we “don’t have time for compassion” that is for a mental health therapist – “your job is to move them through the process” FUCK THAT! My education, morale, and ethical values and feelings go against that grain….compassion needs to be shown to EVERYONE at all times, you never know what is happening in someone else’s life! SO, I put my resignation in – my last day is next Wednesday the 25th….and I have no job lined up – but I do not care, I will figure something out – I just CANNOT work and be expected to ignore individuals who are in psychological or physical pain…it is just WRONG!

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