The Vanishing Bedside Manner

“Stop wriggling”
“You either stop moving or you won’t get your pain meds, you don’t want that do you?”
“Stop moving, stop screaming…be quiet ………you’re not listening!….LISTEN…”
Each and every single statement was told to me in either an angry way, like a parent yelling at a child, or with an obvious air of annoyance.
While I was wide eyed, bellowing, screaming and panting to catch my breath .From my home, to inside the ambulance I was being transported in, through the hallways of the nearest hospital available and all the way until I was situated into a final room. Very early this morning.
I was screaming and begging for help. It felt as if my entire abdominal area was being ripped and sliced apart mercilessly. For hours, the contractions crashed in waves. The pain, at one time, making me gasp out loud because I was sure I was passing out from it.
This isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with umbilical troubles. It’s been a lifelong thing; my third hernia patch being applied over ten years ago. I have great fear of these episodes of pain because, in order to keep sane and “chase” the all consuming pain away, I lose control over what my body does. That includes a thrashing of all of my limbs and trying (in vain) to control my screaming from the sheer agony.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve had to experience pure callousness and rudeness from various “care”givers.

I understand most people and how most people panic in emergency moments.
My husband has spent three decades dealing with hysterical patients. I spent a good amount of time as an aide for developmentally disabled clients. We spent many in-service hours learning to deal with violent scenes, from epileptic attacks to physical attacks on other residents and staff.
I understand how a firm voice and non coddling is necessary to get through to some people.
But that’s the thing..we’re still People.

While I can take a firm voice, it’s an insult to hear the “threats” of not giving pain relief if I “don’t settle” down. As if the humiliating thrashing of my  big and naked body, legs and arms flying to “get away” from the searing pain, can be considered ANYTHING near being  a “choice.”
I don’t know if anyone heard the pathetic and repeated squeaks of “I’m sorry” (between the gasps of pain) that I uttered in my nightmarish screaming-I was that aware and that embarrassed.
The following links regarding the trends in” bedside manner” and the poisoned atmospheres that are affecting us as patients.

It’s Not You, Doctors Are Just Rude

From the young paramedics to the young  doctors. It seems that the young have maintained  an average level of apathy throughout all that they do-from interpersonal relationships to within the intimate professional spaces of where we are most vulnerable.
They’ve been trained to be all about the processing and moving along..and none of the remembering how someone suffering becomes even more frightened when “lectured” and snapped at in the midst of the worst and all consuming pain of their life.
They’ve been treated and trained like a heartless workforce to produce and maintain, therefore they treat us like debris gumming up the “machinery” if we do not sit still, smile our gratefulness and behave “just so”.

I appreciated the aides who brought me warm blankets during my hours. Without my asking, initially. I appreciate the soft spoken or cheery joking intermissions from those who took the time to see that I was a flesh and bone mother in the worst possible shape I could be. My eyes filled with tears at one point because I had given up hope that relief would be coming; to run into these few folks was nothing short of a gift. What a tender shame that this is now something of an exception rather than a once upon a time rule.

We, as patients, need to be aware of this growing apathy, looming over a healthcare system we have very little choice in anymore.
As for the young doctors…I can only speak as one soul. I will assume I speak for more.
Aside from undergoing incredible bouts of inescapable pain yourself, I realize there’s only so far your imagination can take you as far as imagining another’s plight. But even you have to admit that if you saw similar miscarriages of manner in a daycare center or a retirement home, many of you would be repulsed and moved in various ways. Especially if it was your child and your grandparent being treated no better than a dog to snap at for the sake of efficiency.
There are a very vital and simple things you must care to learn about. Preferably, before retirement days find you at the mercy of an even colder generation, when you are vulnerable and facing being told to “shut up” or “stop your foolishness.” Things like addressing the rudeness from your colleagues, within your workplace. The interactions that can snowball straight into your dealings with your patients.

Many of us are older and we’ve learned that life doesn’t tick “just so” and human beings are not textbook “things” to “deal with. We have much more understanding of what you’re trying to deal with, trust me on that. Your inexperience prevents you from knowing these things and that is not meant as a slight. It is a pleading for the human beings you will expect to come to you in earlier stages of distress before you’re left with bigger problems that could have been taken care of.
People are not coming to you as much as we should, as early as we should, because we are scared and not eager to be treated so shabbily. It’s not paranoid anticipation at work, it is the bitter taste of how we’re being treated.

The money that we work very hard for, we do not wish to invest it into vague non answers in treatment and cold and demeaning airs.
You wouldn’t, if given a choice, as a human being.
And you know this.

photo By Catalin Pop

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