Saturday, November 15, 2008

Lessons from the "Other side of the Bed"

Over the past few weeks, I have learned what it is like to be IN the hospital bed, versus being caregiver to people in the hospital bed. I wasn't admitted, but I did spend a lot of time in ER, as an outpatient. The waiting is hard.

My husband is not good with the hospital experience -- people in the beds next to you , moaning and groaning, calling out for attention... being forced to wait for ... whatever. He coined it "hurry up and wait". The doctors did not like some of the test results I have had, and then call me up after I have just been there for 8 hours at work and then ask if it's too much of an inconvenience to come in so that they could see me. So I fed my husband supper and we went to the hospital yet again. Then we waited ... for an hour. Then a grumpy nurse took my vitals. Then another hour. A doctor finally showed up. Told me stuff that I didn't like. Told me to wait some more. Then sent me home at 1 in the morning telling me to go for more tests.

Then I was woken up first thing in the morning by a doctor on the phone telling me to come today. "Aren't you working anyhow? " (After getting home at 1 in the morning, I was sleeping. So no, I was not going to work. How was I expected to function and provide comfort and pastoral care to others when I needed some pastoral care myself?) So I went back in, they told me what the treatment plan is. And I agreed to do it. Even if it is just to get ALL of this over with.

Waiting for "whatever it is"... is hard. Being told things about your health that you don't want to hear is hard. Worrying about the worst case scenario is hard. What is worse? Knowing.. or not knowing. This is one of the lessons that I have learned about being a patient, versus caring for patients.

While waiting in various waiting areas of the hospital, it is interesting to see the types of cases that came in. People brought out in by ambulance drivers, head injuries, bleeding, people wanting pain control, homeless people, elderly, teenagers... all types of people with different cases trying to get help for whatever it is that ails them. Some get help in a timely manner, while others seem to sit and wait a long time. Based on what I saw, my issue was minor and while I hate being a patient and feared being admitted to my own hospital, I sure didn't want to be in the shoes of those I saw in the waiting room either.

1 comment:

Marshall said...

Blessings, colleague. I pray the plan for care is effective, and that the time on the other side becomes just another learning opportunity. Mind you, when I'm on the other side (and I have been, both as patient and family), it's awfully hard to appreciate those learning opportunities....

Again, blessings.