Sunday, August 30, 2015

On Being Sick: Log Entry

by Sheena Rose (B'dos)

It is serendipitous that I have chosen today to come back to this series, since the title of the above sketch entitled 'Twice in an Ambulance' is once again apt. Since my return home nearly two months ago I have been escorted by sirens to the hospital on two dreaded occasions.

Feeling helpless is a central reality of being sick. There's not much you can do when you exprience a muscle spasm so painful you just scream till its over cuz there's no way you can get up to reach the muscle relaxant that will take 20 minutes to work anyway. Today was a bad day, as have been most of my days over the past few weeks and so I have decided to write and re claim some of my power to self define as resilient and a survivor in these dark days.

Roughly one year ago when I was first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes I spent significant time in the public hospital - twice - and was in genuine horror at how patients were being treated. I wrote it down. But I knew there were many gaps in my memory and the details evaded me, which ultimaely become so important to recalling your experience with the type of accuracy needed to recreate the feeling. So this time around I decided not to leave it to chance. I had to be able to share my experiences with others in a way they could understand the sheer madness that passes for health care in our country, so I asked my friends this time to pack me a notebook and pencil along with 2 sweaters to fend off the biting cold in the emergency room. I like to always have an extra 1 to offer, in case I see an elderly person freezing on one of the hard wooden benches or maybe someone without a spine, as I encountered the year before.

Talking about being sick has become important for me cuz ... it is my reality but I know that amdist talking about my own pain, there is a whole medical system functioning in this place that is so unjust it makes my stomach turn, increasing my already bad bouts of nausea. 

So here is my log + notes from my clinic > hospital visit a few weeks ago:

- muscle spams/palpitations in my left calf
-clerk in the st james clinic shakes her head at me disapprovingly when I tell her I have been using natural products to regulate my sugar because I did not have access to free medication while in Portugal 
- 1st nurse to see me was cuban who gave me a stern warning about smoking, told me my electrolytes were shot and there may be a chance of DBT (?) or blood clot
- after several hours I made it to the doctor's office who made several sexist comments such as, "Why your face looking scary so? If I saw you in the street and liked you, I would be afraid to talk to you." - directly after drawing my blood
- other 'conversations' included Him: What are those marks on your skin? Me: Mosquito bites Him: How do you know they are mosquito bites? What else could they be?
Me: I guess I will have to go to POSG? Him: Is that how you ask a question?
- in the corridior the woman sitting next to me gave me the privacy to cry [ I recalled the last time I was on that bench and how my mother screamed at me on the very day I was diagnosed from the emergency doors several feet away while I sat there with an IV in my arm ... I thought about the last argument with my (ex) boyfriend which left me vommitting - an event he never acknowledged. I never felt so alone in my life as I did then.] 
-I thought about my own emotional journey in dealing with having to walk with a cup of your own pee in front of other people
- I peed and forgot to put the cup (an unfortunate circumstance of over active bladder?)
- I saw a woman come in on a gurney and overheard that she was stage 4 cancer and unconscious
- a nurse told the ambulance attendant who arrived that there were a number of people who needed to be taken to the hospital
- he said he needed some time to "settle in"
- this included watching CPL cricket on the waiting room TV
- 2 hours later a nurse told us that there was an emergency case and we would have to wait
- the emergency case was the eldery woman with STAGE 4 CANCER who'd already been there for hours laying unconscious
- the ambulance vehicle had been in the parking lot the whole time
- this is when it became crystal clear to me that nobody gave a fuck whether we lived or died
- me and 2 others were 'loaded up' in the ambulance [this was the language used and I did feel like cargo] and the ambulance sirens came on
- I laughed one of cynical laughs that you only muster in times like these ... sirens ... lol ... like they were really in a hurry!
- I wondered why they put us in wheelchairs even though we were perfectly capable of walking. At first i thought it was all part of the charade [def: an absurd pretense] - then when I entered the emergency room I realized it might have a more practical function, since there is no where for patients to sit or lie down
- I saw the unconscious cancer patient roll past me in the emergency room
- I felt extreme distress
-  one of the attendants asked a nurse if he could give a patient some tea who had been sitting in the same place since yesterday and hadn't eaten (now after 11pm). The nurse said no.
- there is noone in/around/by the x-ray section to tell you what to do. i'd been sitting for at least 10 mins before I saw the sign which indicated I should have dropped my jacket in the tray
- I heard a patient's relative asking why they were taking said relative for more x-rays and didn't inform her of whats going on
- A proud man was being wheeled out of the x-ray department by attendants on a gurney and you could see that he was embarassed
- this observation was followed by his gurney being slammed against the wall due to the sheer wrecklessness of the attendants
- I ate a sandwhich without permission and was shocked at my diascan reading before and after 116/253
- saw a gay guy I knew with IVs in his arms and wondered if it was HIV related
- he was busy taking selfies and I was like ... are we fetishizing sickness now??? then i took one too
- the nurse that was attending to both of us and was quite pleasant began singing "we doh wha no chichi man boy-ah" by sanchez
- 1 doctor (very young) reccomended that I take my medication 3 times a day instead of 2. My dosage has already been doubled since last year. I told him I would think about it. 
- the last doctor I saw was supposed to order a final diascan but forgot/didn't do it. I didn't remind him. 
- he did however ask me what i did. when i told him i was a student he asked about my research interest: indigenous peoples of T&T and then if i could tell him something "cool" about indians so he could impress his daughter.
(9 hrs. later around 1am)