Dear Dr. S, I just wanted to say “Thank You” again :)
About 8 months ago I was admitted to a hospital for the first time in my life. I was so disconnected from hospitals before that, I couldn’t even spell the word; I used to spell it “hospitol” despite being many years past collage age. I hardly used the word enough to even notice.
I came from that rare anomaly of a mostly-functional family who actually love each other more than they just tolerate each other. I have supportive (and still married) parents, a strong circle of real friends, and I’m mostly challenged by and usually love my work. not that my life was all wonderful (like my wonderful divorce), but over-all, I’ve had more sunny days than clouds. and I’m not stupid enough to miss the fact of how rare and fortunate that is.
So back in April, I was sitting at my desk at work, contemplating an early-morning assignment I had the next day. I stood up from my chair to prepare for it, and the next thing I knew I was waking up on the floor, and I couldn’t move. After what felt like forever, feeling returned to my hands enough to hold my cell phone, and I managed pull up and call the number to the office’s security office.
A guard who I’d known for years who had just finished emergency medical training responded. he started unzipping his medical bag, asking what happened. I told him I was just catching up on some sleep. He sat me up to take my blood pressure, and then all I remember was my head hitting the floor as I blacked out again. I still rub it in that he didn’t catch me in time.
fast-forward through the ambulance ride, the insertion of what would be the first in a long line of iv’s, the removal of my clothes and dignity in favor of a very modest and concealing hospital gown, and I was laying on an er hospital bed, listening to my heartbeat beeping away behind me, wondering when they’d send me home and wishing I hadn’t skipped on shaving my legs for the past several weeks. ER techs, doctors and nurses all came in and out amongst the harmonious chiming of monitors, static-filled intercom pages and the occasional yelling of the frequenters of the county (and unfortunately closest) hospital emergency room.
Whoever was in the bed next to mine was having a particularly rough time, and wanted to share her sentiments on the matter with the rest of us at top volume. When the ER tech came back to change something on my heart monitor, he apologized for her wailing. I gave him a half smile and said it was fine, that he was lucky he got to see humanity at its best. he laughed back at that and shook his head.
Fast forward through 6 more ER visits and 4 more hospital admissions totaling around 30 days as a guest of 3 different five-star service facilities with fine dining cuisine. my arms became so needle-marked that my dad said to just tell people I was on the track team. Doctor after doctor referred me to doctor after doctor as they poked and prodded and tested and reasoned and tried to figure out why I’d keep fainting, why my body was shutting down, and then why I could no longer walk.
Fast forward to now, and a genius of a doctor who is faculty at a good university. to the ten page lab report from the several-thousand-dollar blood test finding the 6 different viruses that had taken over my body. for the first time in almost a year, I’m not referred again, or given that closed mouth smile that always accompanies the “I’m-sorry-but-there’s-nothing-we-can-do” face worn by doctors boxed within the parameters of their understanding. but I’m told what’s wrong, and more importantly, how to fix it.
While I was frustrated by the limitations of the medical field, and what I had to go through, I think back to that brief exchange with the ER tech my first trip to the ER. because really, he does get to see humanity at its best.
For any of their shortcomings, doctors and nurses and techs spend entire days dealing with the rest of us, and our puking and bleeding and wailing, with the underlying hope of keeping us alive. And thanks to one doctor with a halo and six-foot wings, I can walk short distances by myself again. I get stronger every day, and this whole ordeal is soon to be behind me. I still have a bit of a road ahead of me. but it is a road lit with the prospect of life, as opposed to being shadowed by looming hands of death.
I know how lucky I am that I’m treatable and I’m not going to die. well, not at least for another 50-60 years or so and hey, now I can spell hospital.