Friday, July 9, 2010


Thursday I returned to my other place, again with some degree of trepidation. It turned out to be a pretty good day however. I had three long conversations with patients who seemed to need someone to talk too. One was thankful she woke up in the morning and could get up and walk around. At first I thought this a daily mantra of hers, but it was in fact a sincerely realistic comment since she'd been very sick the previous week! She was very happy and eating well. She was a dialysis patient, part of a program she attended regularly but the heat and humidity had got the better of her and caused her hospital stay.

In another room was someone experiencing a sickle-cell crisis. She explained that her test results indicated an infection which was assumed to be at the site of her port. Apparently, most people are able to maintain one in one site for a few years before it needs to be relocated. Since this patient is very pain-sensitive, this procedure involves general anesthesia (usually it would require only local anesthesia). Since she'd had to undergo removal and insertion of her port eight times in far fewer years, she's unwilling to accept the apparently automatic assumption that it's her port since she doesn't feel this is the location of the problem. This is her conclusion, given that when in the past this was the location of such an infection she experienced local discomfort and obvious symptoms in this area. So, it seemed understandable that she would be reluctant to immediately go along with the doctors' desire to remove the port and put her through the trauma and hassle of inserting another.

She also told me that she smoked, she was also rather overweight and clearly had not taken great care of her teeth. This struck me as an interesting contrast to her fellow SC lady I had previously encountered in my other place. Given my attitude to health - being an informed consumer and trying to eat healthily and take regular exercise, I would think that if I were afflicted with some kind of long-term, genetic condition, I would take extra good care of myself. The lady at my main place didn't smoke, had good teeth, and was not overweight and seemed to take care of herself. She also seemed better educated, lived by herself and had a full time job; all of these imply a degree of self responsibility. The other lady, possibly even older than the first one, clearly wasn't taking good care of herself and lived with her mother who often interacted with the healthcare providers on behalf of her daughter.

Once I'd done my hours for the day I returned to the volunteer office to gather my things and head out. My departure was delayed since I received some good news; if I was still interested, I could switch to the ED. Absolutely I was still interested. Thus I ended up hanging around for a while until the ID office reopened after lunch since I'd need a new ID (enabling me to get into the ED at the weekend via the emergency entrance). I also got to meet the RN in the ED responsible for training volunteers.

No comments:

Post a Comment