Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Nurses Can Be Nice

Hello Friends:

In December I had my yearly physical, which included a need to get follow up blood work three months later. (A great way to fill a nice three months with an increased sense of dread). I wrote about my attempt to do the follow up in The Nurses Can Be Crazy, which details how I had a rather inconveniently timed, yet ultimately unsurprising flashback episode, resulting in my leaving before they got any blood from me (other than what was oozing out my pores).

My lessons learned from that, as well as other wonderful and inspiring encounters with the medical profession, emphasize the importance of advocates. It is so hard to ask for help, but when it comes to this medical stuff, I either get help or it just does not happen.

After the whole 'wife leaves the doctor's office in a fit of madness and then winds up at my place of work in hysterics' event, my hubby was understandably concerned that I'd never go back to the doctor again. He's the number one person in the support network, the captain of crazy wrangling, so he was on call to try to make this happen, anyway. But he couldn't get me to make another appointment. There was always some very good reason to put it off. Really there was.

And then I ran out of my mind meds. Naturally, the doc wasn't going to refill the prescription for a patient who was AWOL, so I was sort of forced to confront the need to go back. Hubby agreed both to make the appointment, and to come along to be sure they didn't get out the spear guns or any other torture devices. And because I wanted his help trying to explain to my doc why it is that nurses who need me to interpret my own 'quick dip' urine data inspire very little confidence.

Snippet of conversation from previous visit with crazy nurse:
Me - "I'm sure you'll note the specific gravity is pretty high. I know I'm dehydrated."
Her - "There is a lot of blood in this sample."
Me - "Really? Oh, that's bad. I don't have any symptoms of a UTI at all. Are you sure?"
Her - "Yes, it says right here on this strip that ... oh, wait, that's the specific gravity."
Yes. Really.

Anyway, we did go back, and I did sit down with my nice doctor and try to explain. She was great about it, actually. She absolutely agreed that a person with a history of trauma needs to see as few different people in the office as possible so that a trusting relationship can be developed and maintained. She asked me who I liked, and made it clear that they, and only they, would do my blood work. She told me to call that person specifically and finally set up the appointment to get the follow up work done.

I couldn't quite bring myself to do it. So even after that encouraging visit, I had to have, yep, the hubby, do it for me. He set up the appointment, and then had to take a half a day off of work to make sure I got there and then got fed afterwards. Getting blood drawn is an event for more than just the possibility of hysterical trauma-drama. I also am a bit hypoglycemic, so can't be trusted to drive on an empty stomach. And I'm about the furthest thing from a morning person imaginable (I became an astronomer for a reason, you know). The combination of all these factors creates, shall we say, a somewhat volatile situation that has to be dealt with with compassion and then a great breakfast buffet.

Today was the day. So this morning I got up. Early. Didn't eat, of course. And then got driven to the doctor's office. I tried hard to maintain an upbeat and non-bitchy attitude, which was easier with my husband there. We get along really well, and so it is nice to have the excuse, any excuse, to spend more time together. We got called to go back, and the nice nurse I like was there, and smiling. Mostly at my husband, who they seem to remember well from his physicals. Probably a result of his always having had some success in charming the ladies. The nurse listened to me when I told her of the one - the one and only - place you can drill me in the arm and get a gusher on the first try. And she didn't need to be told to use a butterfly needle, either. I was also let off the hook of 'trying to act normal' since my husband was entertaining her with conversation through the whole thing, and I could just sort of shake, bounce, sweat, or whatever and not feel like I was the star of the show. And then she believed me when I said was allergic to bandaids (I really am) and needed paper tape instead.

By the time we walked out, I was already back down to Defcon 3, which is almost my 'normal' level. The whole thing went off nearly flawlessly, as far as I am concerned. And then I got that great breakfast. Which I almost remember eating.

This to me is all reinforcement of the support network and advocacy ideas. I can't believe I need this kind of help to get blood drawn, but I really do. And feeling bad about it does not change anything (not that it stops me from feeling bad, but at least there is perspective). It was worth all the hassle of trying to find a good primary care person; it is really paying off now. And it is definitely worth the hassle to resist the urge to 'knuckle down', 'take it on the chin', and do it all myself. To resist the voices that say asking for help is weak, childish, and why would anyone want to help me, anyway?

Oh, hubby also made me a dentist appointment.


Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image is a promotional pic from the Dutch 2002 film "Yes Nurse, No Nurse"


Andy said...

It's hard to avoid feeling vulnerable in a doctor's office. Or in a dentist's chair. A kind, receptive provider is certainly not too much to ask...

The Blue Morpho said...

Hey Andy: I agree it isn't too much to ask. And yet, it seems hard to find. That might be partly because it's when you need a doctor the most (depressed) that you are the least capable of finding a good one. And certainly in that mindset you don't think you deserve one. Even when I'm fairly clear-headed, and in the office of someone sympathetic, I still encounter issues with stating my needs and being understood. Perhaps that's what everyone deals with, and again, it's my disorders getting in the way. Still ... I dream about what it 'should' be like. Without my advocates and my support system, I'd struggle a lot more with the medical establishment than I do. It seems to me we all need advocates whether we are dealing with mental disorders or not. Thanks for reading and commenting!

Popular Posts