Monday, February 14, 2011

I Get It

     Long wait in the ER.
     Suspected broken ankle.
     Finally put in a room. Only to wait some more...
     And some more....
     Overheard in the next room over:
     "Do you know what time the surgery will be scheduled tomorrow?"
     "No, I don't. Probably in the early afternoon."
     "We have a huge birthday party planned for him."
     "I would cancel it. He really needs this surgery."
     More muffled talking and then sobs and whimpering cries from a young boy.
     "I'm sorry. I can't make your social plans for you. I have patients to see. You know, I have patients..."
     Yeah, my daughter!
     "He's really afraid of having blood drawn."
     I look back at my 13 year-old daughter lying on the tiny little exam table in the teeny closet they put us in. Waiting...more waiting...
     And then, out in the small hallway at the work station that connected three exam rooms together,
     "Ma'am-you need to get off this phone. I need to process patients and do charting. This is my work area."
     I glance out into the hallway and see the telephone caller start yelling at the nurse. "I am calling his father! I need his help in getting his blood drawn. My cell phone isn't working!"
     "I need to work here!"
     "I AM CALLING HIS FATHER! The other nurse said I could use this phone!" By now the lady is screaming at the impatient, indignant nurse. It's getting really, really ugly.
     "You can't talk to me that way!" the nurse says.
     "I can talk to you any way I want, +#$%@!"
     "I'm calling security!"
     "Go  ahead! I don't care, you &%*$)+_!"
     All the while I'm just staring at the lady, wondering if she'll notice me peeking out of the exam room and watching her cuss out the nurse. I thought that if she saw me I might be able to calm her down a bit by distracting her if nothing else.
     Stressed out mother. Overworked nurse.
     Been her. Know her.    
     You see, I get it. I get being angry and out of control. I get being totally inappropriate in dealing with anxiety, impatience, fear, selfish ambition, pride, stress, exhaustion, foolishness, etc. You name it. It's an awful reality, but it feels so right and justified at the time. I'm also aware of how ineffective people are in trying to calm down angry people.
     A gentle answer turns away wrath...The Bible says this and it's true. There are other techniques I've learned that really, really help.
    The scene got more and more charged as the nurse came back. Three security guards came and the lady and the nurse and got in each other's faces. It got close to physical violence. Dr. ER came over to calm the lady down, as well as the security guards. All the while I was staring at the whole thing transpire. I don't think anyone noticed. I didn't really care. I was tired, weary, and so wanted to get my daughter cared for so I could go home. After things settled down a bit I heard the little boy still whimpering and crying in his room with several ladies, including his vexed mother. I stepped in to that exam room to have a word with her.
     "Um, excuse me. Hi there. I was wondering if you wanted to take this dollar and make a call using the pay phone in the vending machine room in the waiting area. Maybe if you called from there you could let the nurse have her work station back so my daughter could be seen a little sooner." I was as sweet and gentle as I could muster up as I held out my tightly folded up dollar. She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "I don't need that money."
     "OK." And I went back to my teeny closet with the all-white sterile walls and teeny exam table that my daughter was half laying on. And I continued to pray and ask God for help, patience, whatever...
     About 20 minutes later the lady and her friends were about to leave with her son. She peeked her in head in my room and said, "Thank you." She was very sincere and seemed grateful. My gesture of the dollar for the pay phone seemed to  mean a lot to her. She hardly seemed like the lady who was ranting at the nurse just half an hour ago or so. I was actually surprised at her demeanor.
     Not long after, Camille was seen, diagnosed with a fracture, bandaged up and we were sent on our way. Thank you God! As we were leaving down the hallway we walked past the lady and her friends. She looked at me as I was passing by and said again, with such gratitude, "Thank you."
     "No problem," I said as I walked by and smiled.
     I get it. I really do get it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I get it too...what a great story. How nice that she was able to be touched and changed by your gesture :) Marilyn