Tuesday, June 26, 2012




Skip helped me out of the Expedition... I stood there for several moments to 'gather strength'.  I meant to walk the distance to the hospital, down the long halls to go to the oncology department.  It hadn't been long since I had the first thoracotomy surgery.

I had major surgery ... a thoracotomy.  I understand today thoracotomies are done differently.  Mine was a major thing... not only that ...one year later I had a second one on my left side.  This was in 1998 and 1999.

I can not even describe the pain I feel today from those surgeries... pain every day of my life.  I live with it without taking pain medicine for fear of getting addicted to it.  Sometimes I cry from the pain, sometimes the terrible pain makes me feel anger ... anger at hurting all the time.  Some times are worse than others.  It's something I will live with the rest of my life, I have no choice.  But... if I feel pain... I am alive...I want to live.  It's my trade-off... I will bear it.

I do have a choice on 'how' I live with it... I choose to live with it in a positive way, though... I'm human.  It really hurts so bad, like right now as I write this.  It's rare that I take something for pain. It's rare that I speak of it, complain with it... but, sometimes like 'now'... it's so much that I'm like a glass of water..when it has been filled too full.. water spills over.

Getting back to walking inside, not using a wheel chair... no matter the distance... I was determined to walk in.  I did this most every time for all my appointments no matter how weak, how much pain I was in.  I had alot of appointments for chemotherapy, tests, doctors.

As we walked to the oncology department I had to stop several times, I was in agony.  Skip held onto me as I stood, waiting patiently until I was ready to walk again.

It had been only a short time since I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.... cancer.  I was still coping with the fact that 'I had cancer'... 'I really had cancer'... 'I couldn't believe that 'I' had ....cancer'.  I was going to die, the end of my world had come......

When we went inside the oncology department we went to the desk where a red-headed woman worked.  She wasn't very friendly, really she had no business working in a medical office with the attitude she had.  As sick as I was I dreaded seeing her... worst was hearing that hateful, hateful voice of hers, seeing her unkind eyes.

At that time we had the best of insurance, we were so thankful.  I say that because since .... we learned how it felt to 'not' have medical insurance... how bad one feels when walking in those shoes.

We had just sat down when that red-headed woman called me back up to the desk.  Everyone could hear everything she said... I heard her talking to other patients in that hateful voice she had.  If I had been well... I would have taken up for some of the very sick people she 'talked down to'.

It seemed it was my time to be talked 'down' to.  She asked me for my co-payment of twenty dollars, our insurance would pay for the rest.  When she asked me for it prior to seeing my oncologist... she said the reason for it was because 'the cancer patients seemed to forget they are supposed to pay a co-payment and would try to leave without paying'.

When that red-headed woman said that... she caused me to experience another shock.  I stood so still while looking at her... I was so sick, I'd just learned I had cancer.... and this mean woman was saying that 'the cancer patients'.......................  'the cancer patients'........... 'the cancer patients'..............

My mind was trying to cope with being called that... at that time I couldn't.  Skip gave her the money and got the receipt... he walked me back to sit down.  All I could hear in my mind was 'the cancer patients' ....meaning I was one of the 'cancer patients' that red-headed woman meant to collect money from.... because I might go out the door without paying a small co-payment.  I was very sick, I also, felt terrible anger and upset.  How she must have demeaned many very sick patients before me..... 'cancer patients'... like I'd just become.

I told the oncologist about it and how it affected me to hear the red-headed woman say that... I told her that I hadn't fully faced up to having cancer... I couldn't believe I had it.  Then... there's that mean-mouthed red-headed woman driving it home to me just as if she were nailing a nail in my coffin.  Her hateful voice, her unpleasant expression making sure 'I knew I had cancer, I was a cancer patient'.  I can't describe the grief, the pain I already felt... she only added to it.

To her... I was 'a cancer patient who might try to leave like the other ones without paying a co-payment'.  I used to work in a medical setting... there is a way to ask for money without hurting or demeaning patients.  Also, one speaks to patients in a kind voice, their eyes are kind when a patient looks at them.  When speaking to a patient one doesn't have to 'broadcast' their illness, their business to everyone in the room... I always spoke softly.

That was when I wasn't a cancer patient trying to sneak out before paying a co-payment... that's what that red-headed, mean-mouthed woman really meant.  I wonder if what she said ever 'come back around to her'?

1 comment:

  1. I don't normally wish for anyone to have a bad attitude or mean mouth but some day, someone will give her the same attitude that she gives others--especially ones that are sick. I have had someone at the ESC to "bad mouth" me. I told her if it was not for out of work like, people like her would not have a job! After that, I had no problems with her. She was very nice each time I saw her after that. She actually needed and "attitude adjustment". Hopefully you won't have to go through all that anymore---physically or mentally. When one talks to someone hateful, I think it can cause a mental problem with a patient even if it is only temporarily. Love, Ms. Nancy