Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hospital Musings

The night before I had my defibrillator installed Anita said something like this "You know, this is pretty routine stuff but in a hospital nothing is really routine. What if you died?" I know, I know're thinking - "Wow, she has the gift of encouragement!" Actually, we got a pretty good laugh out of it. It was one of those statements that didn't come out quite the way she meant it. At least I hope not.

The hospital room where I stayed this week was huge. More than enough room for two beds and medical equipment. In fact, after a quick doze I awakened to find six portable computer stations hunkered down in the middle of the room. Out of nowhere they began to appear.

It was, in fact, a storage room. Directly across from the elevators it was a perfect space for stashing all kinds of things, including patients when needed. Last night it was portable computers, one defib patient (that’s me) and two different roommates.

My first roommate had experienced some chest pains and dizziness on the job. He was there for some testing. My guess he was in his late 40’s or early 50’s. I overheard him talking to his boss wondering aloud if this ‘first in his career medical issue’ might hurt him in what looked like some looming job cuts. The sound of his voice indicated he wasn’t getting the assurances he needed. Fortunately, his medical issues tested out to be minor and he was released. He was freed to deal with an uncertain future.

My second roommate came in later in the evening. He was Mexican/American. 60ish. He couldn’t speak English. As I watched a steady stream of non-Spanish speaking medical people attempt to care for him I started to feel some of the frustration he must have been feeling. How hard it must be to be sick and be unable to communicate with the health professionals trying to attend to your needs.

I’m struck by the fact that health care workers truly are the color of the rainbow, coming to America from all over the globe. The stories are varied, the accented English brings some much needed variance to an ear accustomed now to Mayor Daley Chicagoisms. I was struck by the fact that if someone had a genuine mistrust of multi-culturalism or harbored ill will towards anyone from outside our border …well, a hospital might not be the place for them.

The hospital personnel I interacted with were uniformly kind and professional. I was in good hands. Because of where I live, the easy access to information at my fingertips, and great insurance I have a lot of choices when it comes to health care. I have access to the best equipment. This morning my defibrillator talked to a computer. The rep from the defib company showed me how my machine could talk to her machine. Fascinating.

I’m truly blessed. Many aren’t.

Still too many in our country are using emergency rooms for primary care or neglecting care altogether. They work sick and hurt because they can’t get time off, lack insurance, or can’t get the access to information some of us take for granted. I’ve heard many people of privilege complain about the poor – making jokes about entitlement, and snidely suggesting that poverty is akin to laziness. I think those who complain and joke in such a manner need to open their eyes. There’s more to the story. Much more.

I wonder how many prayers were prayed for me? Lots. I’m blown away and thankful. So many people I know believe that God still cares for each and every one of us. You believe God wants to hear and answer prayers. I knew I was ‘being lifted up’. That bolstered my spirits.

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