Friday, November 19, 2010
...scenes from a hospital...
I was recently recalling some interesting scenes observed as I spent time in the hospital waiting for surgery six weeks ago. One has to be admitted to the hospital before surgery and be assigned a room where you will be prepped before entering the surgery floor. On entering the semi-private room on the ward, I had to pass through a phalanx of people visiting the room's other patient. The young woman in the bed near the door, was surrounded by four or five other women. It felt like we were walking in on a party. The conversation was animated and loud, but abruptly stopped as DH and I entered.
As everyone stared, one of the women asked what happened to my arm. My explanation was cut short by the arrival of the nurse. The curtain between the beds was pulled and I given a gown, asked to get in the bed. When they received word that the surgeon was ready for me, I would be given a shot to calm me. The nurse suggested it could be a while and that I had time to sleep if I could.
The loud talking around the other bed had resumed interrupted only by occasional bursts of laughter. Gradually, members of the patient's boisterous 'pre-op team' said their goodbyes. One remained with the patient. Through snippets of the group conversation I learned that the young female patient was about to have a toe amputated. There was indignation and justifiable anger about this as it was due to a work injury that was improperly treated and had turned gangrenous.
All of this prevented me from sleeping, but it did distract me from any pain in my arm unrelieved by medication. I was dumbfounded by the degree of self-absorption that difficult times seemed to confer on these so-called friends of the unfortunate amputee. There she was in the role of mother/therapist/priest to these poor, ignorant souls. Neither nurses nor I intervened however. I considered saying something, but felt it would only add to the weight of the burden she was carrying. A word from a nurse suggesting the patient could benefit from some quiet time might have been appropriate, but perhaps the busy nurses know from experience that people will generally do what they are going to do.
I left before the young amputee and was able to send a small, compassionate smile her way as I exited. I only hope her friends got their act together and were able to take better care of her at home.