Sunday, February 27, 2011

Who's on First...... What's on Second???

When you are in hospital for any length of time - like 9 days in my case - you have a whole mess of time to think.  I hadn't been in hospital for over 30 years and obviously things have changed - I expected change - but not as much as I experienced.  

The doctors are young... baby young.... and they talk doctor language.  Honestly I don't think they have a clue how to talk to patients - us sick ones - in a language that is not scary or threatening or confusing.  They see the problem - disease - but not the person with it.  They see a puzzle/problem that needs to be fixed - but not the worry in the patient's eyes.  In fact I don't think they even look at the patient's eyes.  Last Saturday I had had enough of THEM guessing what was wrong - I took some control over my body - my disease.,  The next time my doctor came in - I summoned up the strength and focus to tell him what I thought.  And noticeably took the wind out of his sails.  In that conversation I told him pretty bluntly that he had to talk to me more.  And use normal every day language.  

There were so many staff members on the floor - all in neat lil uniforms that didn't give a hint to what job they were expected to do.  I would buzz for a nurse and a body would show up - it could have been a nurse or a PA (patient assistant - fancy term for god only knows ) an orderly or even a cleaner.  It was like the old TV show "What's my line?" 

It used to be that a nurse would be assigned to a floor or a patient (most times patient) you would have 1 nurse during the day - 1 during the afternoon shift - and one during the night shift.  And other than on their days off - you saw the same face every day - they got to know you and you got to know them.  There was a comfort to seeing familiar faces.

The rooms were cleaned by quiet cleaning staff every day - floors washed - garbage emptied - beds made - patient washed.  Not any more.  In fact I was expected to change my bed every day (or as I desired) I was expected to go and find the clean laundry in the hallway - I was expected to wash myself - hunt for a clean johnny shirt - and take care of as many of my basic needs as possible. (I am guessing this is thanks to our "free" medicine and probably some new philosophy on patient care) 

One night when I couldn't sleep and the night nurse came in to hook up my IV we got to chatting a little bit.  I mentioned how my mom used to work at a hospital here in town as the head of pediatrics.  The nurse looked at me as though I was from another planet and then I realized she wasn't old enough to even remember that hospital and that's when it hit me - I am OLD.

I realized I have crossed the boundary from young to old... and these young nurses/doctors/PAs/ orderlies have no point of reference for where I am coming from.  And dare I say - some of them - have little respect for the patients under their care.  That fact was brought home almost every night when I would be awakened from a sound sleep from laughter and loud chatter coming from the staff in the hallways.  I realize it might be their working shift - their day time - BUT it was sleeping time for the patients.  I certainly didn't need to know who was dating whom - or where the latest hot spot for partying was,  Absolutely no respect for the patients under their care.

All of this is not to say there weren't good excellent staff.  There was Annie - a head nurse I think or the equivalent of the old time head nurse - there was Irish a little Philippine nurse who joked she wasn't "Irish" - there was the nurse Steve who always had time to sit for a minute and hold a hand / chat or share a laugh.  There was Tasso the unobtrusive orderly who always seemed to know ahead of time when I needed more water or a clean face cloth and always had a smile.

But for the most part it feels as though our hospitals are businesses - with no customer care.  Their job is to fix the physical problem and ignore the emotional health of their patients.  Get 'em better and get 'em out the door as fast as possible.  

We may have made huge - HUGE - steps forward in medicine - but we have left some of the fundamentals behind in the rush to cure.  And in my opinion more's the pity.



  1. The patient make their own bed?

  2. Ordalie12:34 pm

    What if he isn't fit enough to do so or (as is usually the case) with an IV in his arm? That's quite unbelievable!

  3. Delete Comment From: The Adventurous Journey

    Blogger Ms. Daniel said...

    We've not experienced the "make your own bed" piece of this, but much of the rest of it rings true to our experiences here in the States over the last few years. It is part of what causes us to hunker down when one of us is in the hospital and basically camp out. Without someone on site to advocate, a patient is on their own at their most vulnerable... Sad state of affairs. Good that you are home.

    Hugs, swan

    and oh yes, that deleted comment was me... being a flake

  4. adriannabella9:59 pm

    we need to stop treating doctors and nurses as if they are doing a favor for us, in essence they Work for us not the other way around and if we are displeased with how our hard earned money is spent we should definitely say so.How you are being treated is despicable and family members should not have to sit a round the clock vigil just to see that you are treated well. period. I hope everything turns out ok and you recover well.

  5. Ordalie12:09 am

    "we need to stop treating doctors and nurses as if they are doing a favor for us"
    A very good sentence! I had never thought of that but I'll keep it in mind.


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