Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Question Authority... Every Chance You Get

That was a battle cry in the 60s and it's the core of my Medical Manifesto. Especially since I have learned I will often be told to get/do/take something, when the sole objective is to make life easier for medical personnel. I'm not trying to be difficult, but it's also not my job to make their jobs easier. Let me rephrase: I have cancer, ergo it IS all about me! If they can't tell me why something has to be done a certain way... maybe it doesn't have to be done that way.

If you've read "The Road to Diagnosis," you know that I probably should have done a whole lot more squeaking, a lot earlier. What a lesson. Who knows? An earlier diagnosis may not have made a difference in the treatment of my cancer, but if I had been aware of my vulnerabilities, I might have at least avoided the compression fracture, and that would have made a HUGE difference in my quality of life.

The first time I had an infusion (IV) of Zometa, a bone-strengthening drug, the nurse STABBED the IV in the top of my hand; the drug wasn't even ready for more than an HOUR. So I spent close to two hours feeling like I had a harpoon sticking out of my hand. (And as a souvenir, a purply-black bruise for two weeks after.) It hurt so much, I asked why it had to be inserted there. "Well, it's just easier for us...blah, blah, blah." Hmmm. I have had every subsequent IV in the crook of my elbow, and they don't even do that until the drug is ready... and it doesn't hurt AT ALL. Which is good, since I get this every month for two years.

Most recently, I had to sign a consent form for the Stem Cell Transplant (SCT). And I've learned to READ these suckers. Let them sit and wait, I refuse to let them make me feel uncomfortable just because I want to know what I'm signing. And guess what? The fourth item on the consent form was "I understand and agree that Industry Representatives may be in the room to consult during my procedure." Huh? I questioned the RN about this and she immediately said, "Oh, you can just cross that out if you want. You don't have to agree to that." So, I CROSSED IT OUT. And the #$!! "Industry Representatives" can just wait in the #$!! hallway, thank you.

She also said "they" suggest I shave my head before I even check in. Double Huh?? She couldn't even look me in the eye when she dropped that turd in my lap. I know I'm going to lose my hair, sorry if that's going to inconvenience you in any way! Here's my compromise: I will get a very short haircut a few days before I'm admitted. But I'm not shaving my head. Nope. Worst case scenario is I end up with a few stray tufts here and there, like a Dr. Seuss character, or a Muppet who ingested something naughty. Well...I think that would provide some comic relief every time I looked in the mirror.

Let them know: I'm not a sheep, I'm a PERSON. I don't care if it's easier for YOU. I don't care if I make you WAIT. I have a right to be treated as an INDIVIDUAL. BE the squeaky wheel. DEMAND answers - satisfactory answers. QUESTION AUTHORITY.

If nothing else, applying the *PITA Principle will put the health care professionals on notice that you are paying attention to everything they say and do. It's not going to fix the horrible, broken health care system we have in this country, but it should change the way YOU are treated.

*PITA = Pain In The Ass. If you're going to slow everyone down with your perfectly valid, reasonable matter how patient and friendly you are, by default you will be a PITA. Wear it with pride.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some nurses are True Angels.
But some nurses should have retired YEARS ago, or actually: they should have chosen a profession that was more complimentary with their character. Like perhaps, one of those little parking meter cops who wait until your meter expires and then jump to ticket you even if you are running down the sidewalk and waving your arms wildly, and they SEE you.Or,perhaps they should have stuck to something sensible like a drive-through attendant who deliberately (??) forgets to include your french fries and then you have to park the car, get out, walk inside, wait in line just to get your stinkin' fries that go with your no-longer warm hamburger.
Nancy: just keep the faith, girlie!!