This week I woke up dressed in a diabolical fashion, with unflattering lighting overhead and inedible food by my bed. No, it wasn’t Mother’s Day. When I walked into the main hospital building that morning, the first thing I noticed was the drab decor; so hideous that the caring lovelies working there had tried to patch up the dullness with bright paintings, but I could feel the bacteria and sadness in the walls.
But we do have incredible care. When I came to after my anaesthetic, I had the most lovely pregnant nurse and I couldn’t get over how grateful I felt that we have great health care in Australia. Everyone was so caring I shed a few tears, I felt blessed that this was my first thought. I looked around and noticed that the hospital staff represented every corner of the universe, Africa, Asia, alien, Australia, America, Pacific Islands, Europe and bogan. Despite the racial hatred pollies who’ve received very few votes are trying to stir up, Australians are a mixed bag of nationalities who want to work and live together in harmony without politicians telling us we can’t.
I had a general anaesthetic so I could have Botox injected into my bum muscle (I speak fluent doctor yeah) to try to repair nerve damage from an operation I had in April. I did ask but the doctor wouldn’t do a 2 for the price of 1 Botox deal on my arse and my face. Bloody Medicare. Before I went under, my colorectal surgeon told me to eat soft foods, when I awoke I was served beef so tough it could have been used by our defence forces. And the doctor wouldn’t let me go until my blood pressure and pulse rate went up so I sat in a chair scoffing non-hospital food until I was allowed to leave. I’m happy to be home. On my return, there was a two-stage political coup erupting to change our Prime Minister. Here comes the revolution: We’ve changed to a conservative god bothering white male from a mega-rich white male. Plus ca change. And now that the weekend is here, and our right-wing politicians have finished throwing tantrums and travelled away from the Canberra bubble, I’d like to help those boorish pale males think about something other than themselves, perhaps the nation’s healthcare, education, domestic violence, babies dying in detention centres or even a treaty with the people who were here first.
Politicians, I can’t believe I have to spell it out for you, but most of you are ego driven and need Commcar drivers to help you get to work at Parliament House because you couldn’t find the place by yourself. You are public servants, we voted for you to serve us, not to watch you cower before opinion polls, you spineless idiots. Walk into the hospital, STFU, listen and watch how a diverse group of people co-operate, learn how they carry on their jobs without petty squabbles, working as a team to achieve incredible outcomes for the good of all humanity. This may help as most of you couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery. If you still don’t get it, be careful the door doesn’t hit your unBotoxed bums on the way out.
I had surgery in April. On Wednesday I went back to my surgeon to find out why I’m still in pain in late June. While I’m grateful that it’s nothing sinister, I’ve learnt that doctors who are skilled at operations aren’t always the best communicators. Maybe they could learn these kinds of skills at University.
Dear medical schools what teach mere mortals to become doctor gurus:
Is there a class in communication, bedside manner, and answering patient questions without attitude during the long years of a medical degree? Is there one lesson about asking your patient what they actually do at work? Is there a sentence in any of the science books about mentioning to your patient that their surgery and what a doctor has prescribed may affect their ability to carry out their job or basic tasks like not passing out behind the wheel?
I have low blood pressure. It’s a hereditary condition, my grandpa had it, my mum has it and I’ve been asked numerous times by medical people if I’m a marathon runner (not a humble brag, well maybe a bit) because my blood pressure is so low. Perhaps telling me that the local anaesthetic cream I’ve been using BEFORE work (to get through work without scratching my bum incessantly) will lower my bloody pressure to the point that I may faint and get headaches; would have been helpful before I drove for over an hour, worked in emergency beside stressed families and tried to be cheerful. Telling me only to use it before bed would have assisted me to get through April and May lying down. By mid June not so much.
I have developed newfound respect for people who live with chronic pain and life changing health issues. I don’t think I’m mentally strong enough to deal with a medical condition for years. When I’m a patient, I can feel weak, vulnerable and anxious; so I forget to ask vital questions, like what are the side effects of my medication, and whether I should be worried, and can I wash my pills down with gin and tonic. Yes I can be neurotic and babble on at length (that’s also hereditary), but no one would be harmed by a few well-timed reassuring words from my surgeon. I’ve forgotten how to play the three chords I used to know on my ukulele for years, so how about you ask me if you need to repeat anything?
How about medical schools teach doctors not to rush patients out the door? Doctor I’m paying for your time so how about you give me a teensy bit of it? I was only asking for a few more minutes to answer a few pressing concerns. Like why is my wound healing so slowly and can I use champagne to stop the muscle spasms and why can’t I find a hunk to give me a free daily massage with oil?
I don’t want to leave my physician’s office with a list of unanswered questions that pop into my scatter brain at 3am, I need to save head space for remembering the real names of dead celebrities. Doctors can you please use a checklist for idiots like me? It may help your receptionist/gatekeeper later because she (99% of the time they’re female) won’t be asked silly questions and you may also become a deity worshipped by your patients.
Thank your for your time. One question for you: Are you practising to be a doctor or has your real recital started?
Recently I had surgery (not plastic) requiring a general anaesthetic and one morning I woke up with aches and pains. My doctor wasn’t available so I rang my local hospital emergency department and I was put through to a woman who said,
“We can’t really give advice over the phone so you can come in or see your doctor, or I can put you through to the medical advice line. Which would you like?”
I said to her, “What is the medical advice line, is that recorded information, or do I speak to a doctor?”
And she said, “I don’t know, I’ve never rung them.”
I said, “What?” and she repeated, “I don’t know, I haven’t spoken to them.”
Lady, you’re working in customer service at a major hospital, perhaps with sick and vulnerable customers; surely it would be helpful if you knew some details about the advice line?
“What do you want?”
I was so furious I hung up on her. I couldn’t believe she would say that to someone so obviously seeking help. I was in pain but lucid and close to the hospital, what if someone who is very distressed rings her and she says that?
When I calmed down I rang back and spoke to a different operator who put me straight through to a Health Direct registered nurse. We spoke for 14 minutes, she opened a file, gave me great advice and took all my details.
Why was the first one allowed anywhere near the phone? What annoys me most is that she was as clueless as Tony Robbins when talking about the MeToo movement.
Who do I complain to? There is probably only one poor woman answering the phones because her colleagues have been made redundant, and clueless lady was probably just an executive with no real hospital experience who happened to be walking past a ringing phone at the time. Do I call an ombudsman? The hospital chief executive? The local paper? Or just whinge about it on social media?
If I was paranoid I’d think the state government were trying to run our health care system into the ground, strip our services to bare bones, so idiot pollies can privatise our hospitals. Where can we find politicians with vision? The ones we’ve got are spineless. I wish I could say it is going tibia okay.