Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hi to the Five! (Of Hospitals, Healing and Home)


            It was the world’s longest day, followed by the world’s longest night.
            I’ve no doubt everyone hates hospital energy. (An oxymoron, if ever two words did make.)
            My mom was slated for surgery yesterday. First at 11; then at 2. Somewhere after 4, did said surgery take place.
            Hospital energy. There really aren’t words to describe it.
            That’s why after said surgery, and an evening of post op hovering and waiting, followed by a morning of more waiting on a doctor to just come talk with us...tell us something...anything (only to have him not…Then to be told it might be morning, which again...Not.  Maybe tomorrow...They didn't know. They couldn't say. (It really wasn't the nurses' fault, but still) …I’d had it.
            Best part of my day?
            Sitting in a dog pen at the end of it with goats and pups and poop. Yes, I can honestly say this was more uplifting than the cable-wired, modern designed hospital room I’d been living in this past week, playing the waiting game with folks who clearly consider me about as important as yard scrap.
            Lucky for the surgeon, I wasn’t up for figuring out the who (thinks he’s a god), what (am I still doing here) why (am I sleeping upside down in a chair to wait for you) where (is my sanity) of it all…I just wanted someone to show up as promised in follow up on evening if not morning rounds (they made neither…though one did do a 3 minute drop in on his lunch hour, by which time, I'd lost all faith they'd ever show up so I left til evening rounds resumed in order to catch up on meetings and things to keep my bills paid).
            This is not a blog about bitching (as bitchy as it may sound).
            This is a blog about what’s wrong with one (of so many) system(s) in this great country of ours…and how we, the worn out citizens, have deemed this acceptable. Seems when it comes to health care, the guys running the show have a choice: Either it's about healing (in which case, consider the patient, who stresses when left waiting so long and so often); or it's about business (in which case, consider the customer who, they say, should come first). Sadly, you're about neither. It's the worst of both worlds. I suggest we refrain from calling it "health care" but instead "sick business"....as that's a far more accurate depiction.
             Yes, I know surgeries come with unknowns, and the ones before ours could've had life threatening delays. I get that. But  given the technologies, like... a telephone, could not someone have called to say "Your surgery will be 2 hours late." Or "Your doc's not gonna make it by tonight, but will be by between the hours of ___ and ____ tomorrow morning." I mean, how hard would this be? Instead, we've come to accept time loss as synonymous with doctors. We lose hours with each appointment and days with every hospital stay, which, given how much schooling they go through would make sense, were we not paying them top dollar for this career choice. So seriously. Must they demand gobs of our time as well?....Not exactly conducive to the healing process, assuming they care about this part. After all, as business models go, the sicker we are, the more money they make, so it's a backwards incentive going in.
            Is it not enough we forego our beds, our showers, our homes to be available for the five minutes we cling to to hear what it is we're about to face…One can only hope you’ll grace us with your presence before billing us again. (Oh wait…We just got word you might not drop at all...Could be tonight...Then again, not so sure...don't hold us to it. You don't mind waiting another 24 do you?)  I’m sorry if this sounds bitter. I’m just trying to get my mind around why five minutes of your time should consume 24 hours of mine. Who made that formula?…It’s not that mine’s all that important. But seeings you're being paid royally for yours (and Lord knows if i kept you waiting, I'd be billed) Have you forgotten that our time is money too? The patient's time...The caretaker's time. The family ... The rest of us (juggling our work and time so we can continue to pay you for yours)...Seems we're expendable....kinda at your mercy.  No worries…We'll just work around. After all, where we gonna go?
            If doctors only knew the disdain we have for cable companies who came up with the 4 hour window wait (as if all of us are just sitting at home eating bon-bons with 4 full hours of a window to wait for these things). Maybe you docs could take a page out of Charter’s playbook and at least narrow your window to 2~ Or better yet, call ahead and let us know what number we are on the waiting list so we can adjust accordingly. (Dear Charter, Could you please share your customer feedback with my mom's doctor? He needs your help.)
            Yes, I know I’m tired. I know I’m stressed. And yes…when someone you love is dealing in a life threatening illness, you can even chalk things up to “scared” …But when the doctors making oodles of money off of room rent alone don’t have the decency to show up or call within a 24 hour window to tell you something...anything…I just gotta say, for all our modern technologies, our society has its priorities (if not its manners) all backwards. (And to think I live in the South.)
            The best part of this day? Suffice it to say, it had nothing to do with the advances of Western medicine. To the contrary. The best part of this day was coming home to the five~ meaning Rosey, TJ and a bunch of waggy-tailed babies eagerly awaiting my arrival, ever ready to lick away the tension of a world they'll never know. (Thank God)  In the poop of a puppy pen did I find the compassion and the healing energy I'd been looking for all day. I felt relief the second I hit my knees. (Then again, I always find relief when on my knees.)
            So what does this tell me? Well today, the lesson really hit home as it dawned on me that real healing can only happen in a state of humility. It is not to be found in the torrential winds of ego, which seems to be the currency of choice with hospitals and their hierarchies these days.

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