Oh yeah...I've had it with ER attitude....this old girl (moi, not just JL) is on fire!
OMG! I have finally figured out what it is about The Hunger Games that has captivated me so much.
In the last few days I've spent hours on YouTube watching Jennifer Lawrence interviews because I can't seem to stop thinking about the movie and the book. I don't think I've ever identified with a movie or book as much as I have with THG and have tried to understand what it is that has gotten under my skin so much. In trying to figure out why this "obsession" with THG, l came across one interview which led to another and so forth. But it was the David Letterman interview of last month that made me stop and go, HUH???
First of all, I didn't realize how funny, charming, self-deprecating, honest and even witty JLaw is. When I stumbled upon her interview with David Letterman I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing and my ears were hearing. Evidently, JLaw had three weeks of stomach pains to the point where she was forced to cancel a few interviews promoting The Hunger Games: Cathching Fire, finally going to an ER where an endoscopy was done.
She was/is having problems with her intestines and has actually been vocal about it, even making fun of herself. Example: she went to the ER thinking she had an ulcer but found out it was a "fulcer."
And so, one of the seemingly last taboos of Hollywood has been discussed - that is, by a person who's under the age of 80 - and I'm not sure 80-year olds have gone "there" either. So, good for Jennifer! What's not so good, however, is the reporting of what her problem actually was, by those who are not in the know. A few papers had the nerve to say it was "just gas." (Last I've read or heard is that her lower intestines need to be checked out - there'd been no time.)
It took JLaw's gutsy admission (pun intended) during the Letterman interview for me to finally realize why I've been so "obsessed" by THG. One of the themes in the movies -and the books - is the helplessness one feels when the powers-that-be take away the power of a population and what that population is forced to do. Worse, it's also about what happens when a population is brainwashed. And finally, perhaps worst of all, is the price one pays, psychologically and physically, when a people are forced to go against one's standards and stoop to the level of those around them.
So, what does all this have to do with ME/CFS/CFIDS and fibromyalgia? And why this, why now? Why write about JLaw and The Hunger Games yet again?
Let me tell you, I have felt helpless with each of the six ER runs I've had since October. Like many who are reading this, I felt completely at the mercy of the staff, most especially when I knew that I was getting misinformation, bad treatment, WRONG advice and a whole lot of other incredible ....let's call it "stuff" instead the other "s" word I'd like to use, especially given what part of the body both JLaw and I are having problems with.
So, what does all this have to do with ME/CFS/CFIDS and fibromyalgia? It's bad news for us. The attitude and hostility that one encounters in just about any God-forsaken ER now is just about par for the course for just about any health problem which appears in the ER, visible or invisible. I've known of people who've had this happen to them, but in the last few years the GOMER syndrome has become so out-of-hand that I feel I need to write about a blatant example of what happened to me during ER run #3.
Oh dear. I just realized that some of you may not know what GOMER stands for. Hmmm. OK, the short version: though originally used for demented elderly patients, this "sweet" phrase evolved to mean just about anyone who comes into an ER and the staff (read "doctor") feels that patient isn't worth the "staff member's" time. It stands for "Get Out Of My Emergency Room" and an example of the usage is: "Get that GOMER out of here!" This expression is used throughout the States. Shocked? Well, as long as we're talking, how about SHPOS? That acronym is also often used by ER staff and stands for "Subhuman Piece of Sh*t." (Imagine raised eyebrows.)
Back to Jennifer Lawrence and The Hunger Games and my identifying with it all.
When you go to an ER, you become helpless. You have no power, no matter what "they" say. (Keep this statement in mind below when I describe my nurse, please.) Worse, you stoop to their level because you have no choice. Finally, all too often you find yourself ticked off with yourself for resorting to their game(s), even if that behavior is the only means for survival.
Which brings me to an incident during one of my ER runs last month. I've wanted to write about this episode but no matter how I wrote it, it would come out with me sounding petty. On the other hand, it was such an unthinkable and unimaginative incident that I felt I just had to get it off my chest - as well as to forewarn others. And I use the words "unthinkable" and "unimaginable" in the strictest sense, not as an expression.
For brevity's sake, I'm not going to go into everything that led to the incident. Be assured that what I leave out is not something that might portray me in a negative light. I'm trying to spare you, my lovelies, from a dissertation.
With this visit, I'd been in the ER for quite a while, for at least a couple of hours I want to say, without a doctor coming into the room. Without a doctor coming in, nothing can be started: no tests can be ordered, no medication given, nothing other than your vital signs documented, such as temperature, heart rate and BP. Mind you, I was so ill and in so much pain that I'd called an ambulance. (Imagine an eye roll here: the ambulance experience is yet another issue I've been meaning to address, but again, afraid I'd come across as sounding petty.)
Despite the pain, I'd made the decision not to take any pain medication in the hours before going to the ER, because I didn't want to mask any symptoms. I needed to get to the bottom of this mess because I'd spent a day (plus?) howling in pain, into pillows to muffle the sound. I knew sometimes the howl would escape the pillow and worried that the neighbors might call the police, thinking there was a murder going on in our house. (Yeah, yeah. I know. But I couldn't help being concerned that those poor neighbors were worried about how they'd feel if there HAD been a murder going on and they hadn't called. I know: I'm such a "nice, thoughtful" person. I told you I was "shallow"! - see link!)
At any rate, when I arrived in the ER, rudeness and tension were in the air. Walking into the ER - OK, being rolled into the ER on a gurney - I could feel what I want to call "bad vibes." I hesitate to use that phrase, "bad vibes" because I don't want to sound too much like a displaced hippie. On the other hand, we all know that feeling when the little hairs at the back of your neck stand up and you just want to ignore that signal. Note: when we do ignore it, it's never a good idea - we should feel lucky that Mother Nature gave us that signal, for survival's sake.
There are two incidents that were just plain odd, weird, unimaginable which I'd like to relate:
I'd done some tweeting in my ER room, which helped the time go by faster, but more importantly, it helped to distract me and deal with the pain more easily. I was working hard on not screaming in pain and not crying. However, things finally got so bad that I wanted to call the nurse with the little do-hicky they give you to press in order to signal that you need help.
First, it took a while to find the "do-hickey." Then twenty minutes PLUS passed and no one had checked on me. Keep in mind that the door was closed so I could have fallen off the bed or could have been having a seizure and no one would have known - nor cared.
Finally, not able to stand the pain any longer, I grabbed the yoga pants I'd thrown into my handbag, and was in the process of putting on my t-shirt over my (home) nightie when my nurse came in. One look at me and he demanded, "what do you think you're doing?" I didn't yell, I simply said, "I've been here for well over two hours and haven't been seen by a doctor. I'm feeling worse than when I was brought here so I'm getting out of here before I feel even worse than I do now."
The male stocky-ish nurse stepped into "my space" and said, "that's your prerogative, you can leave anytime you want," blocking my way to the door. I stepped sideways to get around him and he again said, "you can leave any time you want, it's your right" as he stepped sideways to block my way out yet again. This little dance went on for a few more rounds.
I couldn't believe it! He'd puffed up his chest and brought it to within a couple of inches of mine! He was in my space and in my face. He was saying the correct thing, "you can leave anytime you want, it's your right/prerogative" but he was doing the opposite in actual fact, not allowing me to leave. You can't imagine what I wanted to do to him and had to work ever so hard to stop myself.
Another "discussion" ensued when he said the doctor would be in to see me in a "moment," a word I've learned to despise because of situations like this. I wanted to know his definition of "a moment."
I might add that this "young man" had been my nurse before and that was a joke. A real mess. So many things so wrong that I wouldn't know where to start.
But back to the ER run I've been discussing. Time had gone by, the doctor had finally been by and tests were being run. Yet everything was just so "off." Everything was an adversarial situation. More misinformation as well....
Eventually, things had "died" down and the nurse and I were in the room alone again - we were waiting for the doctor and lab results, I suppose. I wanted to make peace of some sort but I also wanted him to know that his behavior was not really acceptable - in anyone's world, I wanted to add. Furthermore, I hadn't said anything about his unprofessional behavior (and a couple of lies) during at least one other visit, deciding to let things go. I never imagined I'd have the misfortune of having him again and I was also just too sick to carry on any sort of talk about "wrong things." And that, as it turned out, had been a mistake.
So as kindly, but firmly, as I could manage, I addressed the problem of what had happened. I was not going to let this go lightly. After all, this was my third ER run in a month and I wasn't being treated nor helped. Pain was out the wazoo by now. Furthermore, rudeness of any sort is just not OK in my book. Unprofessionalism is also not OK in my book. I also worried what would happen if I had to come back to the ER a fourth time. I was between the proverbial rock and a hard place of before: I didn't want to burn any bridges but I also didn't want to get this sort of treatment again.
And so I said something to the nurse about attitude. Wow! What a blowup!
"ATTITUDE? You think I gave you attitude?" Now he's in my space again - in my face, again.
"ATTITUDE? You think I gave you ATTITUDE?" I'm stunned.
"You think that was attitude? I can give you attitude! You want attitude? I can show you attitude, right here and now," finger pointed to floor for the "here."
And that's when I sank to his level - I'd had it! How dare he? I wanted to say, "are you on drugs?" I mean, where does this sort of insane talk come from? I said, "OK, give me attitude!"
"ATTITUDE! That's not attitude, you've obviously never seen attitude, I can give you attitude! I can show you some REAL attitude."
This sort of trash talk wouldn't stop, making a couple more rounds, and by now I was genuinely interested in what kind of attitude he could give me. I really wanted to see it. OK, so part of me worried he might have a stroke or perhaps a heart attack because his face was getting rather red and if there were no veins sticking out on his face as he was getting more agitated it would have been only because those veins were in too deep to show.
But you know what they say about bullies. You confront them and they run the other way. And I admit: Lordy, but I hoped it would work here! But, yes, I was also curious at this point. (Shoot me! I'm human! Uh huh? How many of you would also have wanted to know what attitude he could give! Thought so! ;) )
I said "Come on, give me some of that attitude you think is going to 'impress' me! Show me what you've got. Go on! Give me your best ATTITUDE! I've raised 3 kids, I'm old enough to be your mother, so *I* know attitude and I'm not sure you can live up to the attitude I've seen in my life."
At that point I think he realized how out of line he was.
There's so much more to the psychological games that were played that night-into-morning. There was so much unprofessionalism and bad medicine done that day.
And note: this is the visit I was told I had pancreatitis and yet sent home without having been hydrated with an IV bag, given no medicine to treat the pancreatitis and given no instructions regarding diet - you need to rest the pancreas and not eat. (There are actually a few other outrageous medical actions here which I'm too exhausted to address. In other words, I remind you that you're reading a very abbreviated and sanitized version.)
And I ask you, who the H-ll sends home a person with pancreatitis anyway - and one running a fever!
Like The Hunger Games, I felt that I was in a life and death situation - there was a distinct possibility I could die with a bum pancreas if it was left untreated. As it was, a few weeks later I had to be hospitalized for ten days with unbelievable level of "illness," to the point where things could have turned fatal. Two weeks after that hospitalization, I had to be hospitalized yet again for a few days.
When Katniss had the "nerve" to wonder about the way the government was treating their citizens, I had to wonder about how the ER treated its patients. Just as a government exists for the people, a medical system exists for patients.
Katniss didn't want to kill anyone, to change into a person she never wanted to be. I turned into someone I'm not when I stooped to my nurse's level and I said, "go on, give me attitude."
What's most unfortunate is that this sort of behavior is not a fluke. There IS an attitude problem when ER staff have their own language with includes derogatory terms such as GOMER and SHPOS and too often think that waiting for 4-8 hours is not unreasonable. There IS something terribly wrong when ER staff thinks that saying one thing one moment and then changing their minds to the opposite of what was said is normal and fine (discussed in a previous post in regards to pain medication). There's a real problem when there are electronic records that the doctors relies on solely without taking a patient's history - but that's opening another can of worms.
What's most unfortunate, however, is that what I've pointed out is happening across the board. And yet some people wonder why The Hunger Games became such a hit, the books and the movies? These things are not just frightening, annoying and uncalled for, but dangerous as well. Hey! What would have happened if "Nurse Attitude" had indeed keeled over from a heart attack when he went ballistic? It would have been a bit of a complication. More complications I do not need in my life!
As always, I hope everyone's doing their very best - only better! Wishing everyone a very gentle and safe weekend, ciao and paka!
Note: I've not seen THG's Catching Fire nor read the book yet: gotta, though! You never know what survival skills and necessities this ol' gal might learn to be put to future use! ;)
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