I’ve Been Gone but I Have a Doctor’s Note

Was it only last month I did a post on Writer Unboxed about lessons precipitated in a car accident? I aspire to be the kind of person who can learn from anything, but I don’t want to excel at the Zen attitude, you know? *shakes fist at the universe*

In other words, I’ve been AWOL for a loved-one’s health crisis. But that person is making a speedy recovery, so now it’s time to look at the week’s take-away lessons.

1. That I no more enjoy sleeping in ICU-affiliated lounges now than I did a decade ago.

2. That some hospital staff are condescending and rude and label family members as “anxious” — code for “troublesome” — until they learn there’s a doctor in the crowd. Then they bend over backwards, become nervous and self-conscious.

3. That this saddens and frustrates me, but not enough to refrain from using it to protect a loved one.

4. That the phenomenon of nutritional illiteracy is not confined to the pizza-for-a-vegetable movement in the States, because a person can still be hooked up to a heart monitor in a $10,000 dollar a night bed, but be offered $0.75 worth of cheese and trans-fat laden peanut butter — the foods that put them there in the first place.

5. That I’m raising a remarkable young man in that he has the capacity for selflessness in the time of a family member’s illness.

6. That this means he has more maturity than at least three adults of my acquaintance.

7. That I shouldn’t be surprised by interpersonal dynamics, since a health crisis often amplifies faults, flaws, and troubled relationships.

8. That though I aim to be empathic and compassionate, believe in the Golden Rule, and generally do not have to shoehorn myself into this mentality, a she-dragon lurks below this mild, Canadian exterior. In the right circumstances I  will call security and say very. Rude. Things.

9. That it felt awesome to drop the social mask and I have yet to experience a pang of remorse.

10. That in the midst of crisis you can be overwhelmed with gratitude. For:

  • family that cares
  • the kindness of perfect strangers
  • the competence and professionalism of certain staff
  • groundbreaking doctors who live 3000 miles away, who haven’t been seen for years but who are instantly reachable and willing to provide advice, for free, because they are just that committed. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Dr. John McDougall. Thank you! Again.)

11. That I’m glad to be home. Glad to see the ToolMaster, Molly, and my pets. That it’s wonderful to see my desk and write again, because everything makes sense when committed to paper.

12. That this person’s crisis will not have been in vain, for we all will use it to guide and entrench lifestyle choices in the extended family and community.

Speaking of which, have you made different health decisions because of a loved-one’s personal crisis? If so, what changes did you make and did they stick?

24 thoughts on “I’ve Been Gone but I Have a Doctor’s Note

  1. OMG, Jan!

    I had no idea what was going on! Hope you and everyone is okay, and I’m proud of you for being there for your loved one and kicking some butt. (((HUGZ)))

  2. What a great outlook, that it was not in vain. I agree with Liz, and think it’s great you were able to help. I love your tough side too, Jan, and even without knowing the details, I have total confidence in your sense of fairness, so agree with Donna, too, about the butt-kicking. Good to have you back!

  3. By contrast I had a fine hospital stay after my knee replacement. I got to eat all the Italian ice I wanted–even for breakfast. The finest moment, though, came around 3 a.m. on the second night when an experienced nurse and a very inexperienced one answered the call to help me use the bathroom. I had three tubes running into my body at the time, had to have my leg lifted out of what resembled a baby car seat and was still very afraid of putting any weight on my foot. I overheard the young nurse ask the older one why they had to do all this work, and the older one said, “He just wants to use the toilet, like anyone.”

    1. Are you trying to push my buttons, Dave? Italian ice cream for breakfast?

      On the other hand, you were there for a knee, not a circulatory issue.

      Sounds like you had wonderful staff, as did my loved-one for the most part. (It only takes one in a critical place to cause an issue.)

  4. Every time I take my mom to ‘Emerg’ (she has TMJ, so her jaw slips out from time to time,) the one thing I know to expect is that she will charm all the medical staff around her. The longer it’s out the harder and more painful it is for them to put it back in. We appreciate all the dedicated effort on behalf of a little old lady (she’s 84!) who means the world to us. Still, I sometimes worry about them wanting to keep her and send me home with someone less cheerful.

  5. Sometimes we learn things in places we don’t want to be– like an ICU room. But the experience stay with us and in us.

    I spent four days in ICU in Thailand– I wasn’t the patient. It was my wife. When the staff found out I had no place to stay and would have to travel everyday from our home they moved a couch into the ICU room and pleasantly ignored me while they took total care of my wife. It was an eye opening experience to watch these wonderful people go about their job and feel me with confidence. My wife joked that I didn’t mind being around beautiful women 24 hours a day.

    I’m glad things are getting back to normal for you, JAn and that the future is bright knowing your son is a real man!

  6. I’m glad to hear your loved one made it thru the crisis, Jan. and even tough you let out your she-dragron, you only did it out of love for this person. That’s all we can hope for, is to have someone like you stand up in an emergency.

    Take car of yourself.

  7. Welcome back, Jan, and glad all seems to be ending well. It’s nice to know your dragon-self is ready when necessary!

    Oh, and Dave had Italian ICE. Not ice cream. While I was down in the hospital cafeteria having salad. (:

    1. You know I read “ice” and thought he meant “ice cream.” Googled that term just now and that sounds lovely and much healthier. Dave’s such a tease I thought he was taunting me on purpose. 😉

      And salad FTW, Mary Jo. I love salad.

Leave a Reply