We are human beings you know!!! When will someone be human to us???

(This was written over two years ago in the aftermath of a family emergency. Being on the other side of the health care service delivery equation was more stressful than anything in recent memory because we were not treated as people…. we were patient and caregiver. Labels used to identify people in the health care system instead of using their actual names. How about this… dispense with the labels. Maybe then health care will be both healthy and caring.  What I know is, something needs to change.).

What I know.

I love. I feel. I express best through words. I create. I carefully consider but am prone to making decisions based solely on intuition. As intensely as if bearing down to obtain the most vivid tone and hue, I feel. I hurt.

Not wishing to focus on the negative, but it is through I must proceed. So let’s start with this – I’m not looking for validation. I don’t care to hear the reasons why something I feel isn’t true – from anyone else’s point of view. Everything I feel is my truth. What emerge are tones, shades of me at various points in time. Intensity is transient and frequency variable. Regardless, it is truth – mine.

Alone.

Perhaps never as before, I felt very alone and cold on March 2nd 2014.

A thud represented the reality in which I found myself. A thud and a weak cry for help. What I found was a man oddly propped against a wall, hanging between life and not.

Instinct took over…
Lie him down….
Run downstairs…
Find a phone…
Unlock the front door…
Run back upstairs…
Breathe…
Tell fingers to press the numbers 9-1-1…
Speak… say something…
Help us…

Help me up.
No hon, stay there.
I’ll help you.
No honey, stay where you are… you are having a stroke.

That was the first time I said it. Stroke.

9-1-1 Operator. What is your emergency?
My husband is having a stroke.
Yes, he is conscious.
His right side isn’t moving…. He has a facial droop… speech slurred.
Lying on the floor
Oh yes… our address is…
We are upstairs… the door is unlocked…

I remember Skooch sat next to his head the whole time.
It was as if she knew the problem was happening in his head.
She just sat there until I put her in the closet when the rescue team arrived… and upstairs they came
to help.

They were nice… and took care of you… and took you outside to the ambulance… and to the hospital and away from me…

I called Mom…

Meet me at the emergency room.
Dave is having a stroke.
I have to go.

I can’t really remember this part. I got dressed. I let the cat out of the closet… or the bathroom. I got into my car… and started to drive. I realized I beyond frantic so I dialed another number. What time was it? No idea.

I phoned a friend…

Dave is having a stroke.
I’m going to drive off the road if I don’t calm down.
I can’t breathe.
I can’t believe this.
I need to calm down or I’ll be in the ED bed next to him.
Ok… I’m at the hospital. I’m going in now.
Thank you…
I’ll let you know.

Walking in to the ED…

Where is my husband?
He isn’t in the system yet?
Huh?
So he doesn’t exist.
Oh, there he is.
We’ll let you back soon.

Sitting… waiting
Finally
Come with me.

Doctor speaks clearly… slowly
Simply but not condescendingly
This is good but all I hear is
Stroke
Too late for clotbuster
Wait and see
Stroke
Blah, blah, blah
Stroke
Too late for clotbuster
Blah, blah, blah
Stroke
Blah, blah, blah
Too late for clotbuster
Stroke
Blah, blah, blah
Stroke
Too late for clotbuster
Too late for clotbuster
Wait and see
Blah, blah, blah
Blah, blah, blah
Blah, blah, blah
Blah, blah, blah
Blah, blah, blah

Entering a big room
Feels like a cave
In the middle of it all
A stretcher
Tubes and wires
Oxygen
Monitors
Milling around
No one explains a thing
Do they think I already know this stuff?
Barely a hello… from anyone
We are human beings you know!!!
Will someone be human to us???

Finally
Sorry hon
He sounds funny but I understand him
Half smiling
What a mess I made of things
Sorry
It’s ok… we’ll get through this together
I love you… love you too.

Mom comes in
More family arrives… how did they know?
Baby carriage
More family arrives… in and out
Off to CT

When did you have your first stroke, sir?
Huh? I didn’t.
Oh, but you did.
Oh.

Back to ED.
Admitting for a few days
Telemetry
Up to room
Hooked up
Beeping
Tubes in
Tubes out

Ice chips, please
He’s been waiting hours
Well ok.
Have to wait for admitting doctor for more

So we waited hours and hours and hours

This is ridiculous, where is the admitting doc?
He needs something to keep his mouth moist at least
We are human beings you know!!!

When will someone be human to us???

Family arrives… stays a while… leaves.
Kills some time where we aren’t just sitting and waiting for

Finally – alert the media
THE DOCTOR arrives
Actually, a pack arrives
Resident, medical students… in lock step
A bio mass
Introductions
Blah, blah, blah
Blah, blah, blah
Blah, blah, blah
No idea who we are talking to
We are human beings you know!!!
Will someone be human to us???

I’m staying
I don’t care
Afraid to leave him alone in the hospital
There seems to be no one around
No one watching him
No one talking to him
Can’t you see he is afraid
No one cared
What happened to caring care?
A relic… like a rusted out caddy at some roadside exhibit in the dessert deadlands.
It can’t be… but it was
That day

No one asked why I was there
No one asked me to leave
Was it a relief that there was one fewer person to have to watch?

It felt like people simply headed off to their lives
Thankful that they could walk away
That this was not their life that just exploded

It was sometime in the middle of that first time when were both awake and clinging to each other… and crying… and sorry
Sorry I did this to us
It’s ok… we’ll get through this together
I love you… love you too.

I hate March 2nd

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