Recently I have been asked to be a so called ‘Education partner” – a real patient where 2nd year students could excercise their intake interview skills. And so I drove to the hospital to allow medical students to get acquainted with real patients. Handpicked by my doctor I had high expectations. Last year his assistant forgot to invite me. This year I was called at the beginning and I had first choice of when I wanted to show up to be a guinea pig, I was 30 minutes early. You never know what happens to your scooter underway, and they have acceptable cappucino in the waiting room at the hospital – free for patients.
The secretary I was to report to was shocked about my time of arrival. “You are 30 minutes early!” she said. No problem, I will have a coffee in the waiting room and the 30 minutes will fly by. I have waited a lot in hospitals. Other patients followed soon and a secretary arrived early to get us into the elevator. It is a kind of lottery, hospital elevators. I have never understood why you push a button and then you have to guess which elevator arrives for what. Also, the size of the elevators is different. Some are for people to go up and down. Others are for goods to be delivered on certain floors. And then you have the lifts for beds to be transported.
Since you can’t pick your elevator, you have to wait which one will arrive, I need to be in a bed size elevator because of my scooter. There are only 2 bed size elevators, and not all patients and visitors are aware of the elevator logistics. Personally I think it is a nightmare.
Up to the floor where I started my journey as a patient in this hospital. The triage area is at the 2nd floor. The ambulances also arrive at the 2nd floor, which is a kind of cool as they drive up to that floor. We were going to transfer to the ambulance elevator. We needed to go to floor 2.5.
I did get some Harry Potter vibes (platform 9 ¾) and got into the elevator. I pushed the button of floor 2.5. The elevator stopped at 3. Back to the first floor. All other patients looked expectantly at the elevator and my return was a disappointment. We tried it 3 more times but to no avail. Floor 3 was the only one the elevator felt like going to.
So it was decided to go outside. First down with the elevator to the ground floor, then outside walking to the building for education, and then we had to find the elevators again. This building was not suited for handicapped people. Obviously the hospital only wanted healthy and thin students, The groups I met were fresh, motivated people – a promising generation of doctors.
Then up to the ‘rest’ room for the patients. Some cookies and pastries were displayed as well as coffee, tea and water. Very nice. However for someone with my handicap it was insufficient as the chairs did not have sides. I could fall off any minute and that was unsafe. My scooter didn’t fit through the door so that wasn’t an option either. The secretary ran to the hospital and got a chair for the elderly. The elderly fit the same profile of the handicapped so I was quite happy to get such a chair.
I arrived at the front of the room eventually. I made sure to be with my belly pressed to the table so I wouldn’t keel over. I forgot to bring something to drink, All that talking makes one thirsty.
The students were divided in groups according to the process for an intake for a patient, Some did the start, others the end, and more were asking in depth questions. Time flew by. It was an animated discussion.
Then the change of groups was on. It was a bit messy as it always is in changing groups. But then I had to start immediately after. I noticed I was really tired and started to mess up words and sentences. In one hand it was good – show the world what happens after one intensive hour. On the other hand my vanity kicked in- I didn’t want to be a rambling idiot. But there was no way around it – I was rambling..
I was glad we were finished as I was really collapsing. I went down, had one decent cappuccino and then I drove home. The next week I did nothing more than sleeping and reading a bit. I was soooo tired. My balance was off and I stayed in bed to prevent accidents. After 7 days I started to feel like me again. This is something the students and doctors will not realize, but it is the truth. Now I am back to exercising again.
This is not a pity piece, but it is good to realize there is a lot that people don’t see on the outside. Fatigue, ability to think and organize, sensitivity to outside noise – it is all there.