Saturday, January 10, 2009


Recently I had a doctor’s appointment. Nothing exciting, just your run of the mill stuff. It was shortly after I had been in for the whole lump debacle. It was a different doctor with different nurses, but within the same office.

As I walked in, I felt all those old emotions returning. Not quite as strong as before. But still there. The memories of David. The concerns. The sadness. I was feeling quiet and a bit lost. As I was taken back to the exam room, the nurse who was obviously having a bad day began a constant stream of complaints. She was whining about how awful her day was going. How no one was doing their jobs correctly. She is left to fix everything and it was just such a burden for her. Someone kept moving her clip board and other such nonsense that I can not recall anymore. But it was inconsequential. The world was not ending. She did not have cancer. She was just pissy because she was having what she considered a bad day. I would love to have had a day like that. It sounded like a delightful day compared to the hell I have been through and continue to be in. But that is irrelevant really. And who knows what other shit she may be surviving on her own path in life.

But what got me was this. We went into the office. She sat down and began checking over my chart. Confirming there had been no changes. Understandable. No biggie. As she continued to check my chart, her litany of complaints about her day and co-workers continued. Whatever…

And then she got to it. She asked me if I was still currently on birth control. I said no. Then she asked, “Well, are you sexually active?” Again I answered no. No details. Just no. You would think at this point she would have updated the god damn chart and continued on with the appointment. Because odds are, if a 35 year old woman comes into your office and she is now no longer on birth control or sexually active… odds are she is not happy about it …and odds are there is a pretty big damn reason. Maybe it is due to breakup. Divorce. Some form of abuse. Or in my case death. But there is a reason. But she was not thinking about me or why this change might have possibly occurred. She just decided to make a point and in a very accusatory tone said, “Well, your chart says here that LAST week you were still on birth control and LAST week you were still sexually active.” I said, “Well…I was not.” That should have been the end of it. But she would not let it go. She had to make a point that obviously other staff members were not doing their jobs and my chart was living proof of that. So, now she was left with the burden of it. And then she asked me again…as she said “To confirm, so that it is updated properly.” Confirm my ass. She was just trying to hammer in her point. Like I cared that someone else was not doing their job. And honestly, I know the nurse who had updated my chart the previous week and she knew my situation. She knew my pain. And she was extremely kind. She gave me hugs and cried with me. And amongst reminiscing about David, she ended up not revising my chart. Not a tragedy. But this woman knew nothing.

But even if she had not…she should have realized this was a situation I was not happy about. By my actions alone. Let alone if she stopped her diatribe to look at me. I must have looked mortified at that point. But she continued on blindly and when she asked me the second time to confirm it…that was it. My anger at her complete lack of compassion boiled over and with my last ounce of strength I sat up straight in the chair. Looked her squarely in the eyes and said, “No…I am no longer on birth control. And NO, seeing as my husband just died. I am not sexually active.”

Well, that shut her up. Finally. And a look of horror crossed her face as she tilted her head and recounted the last five minutes of our conversation. And yet, even though she seemed to have realized what an ass she had been, she did not apologize. She stood up, said gruffly the doctor would be in shortly and stomped out of the room. But I think I made my point.

My resolve shattered and by the time the doctor came in I was sobbing. But I did it, I kept my shit together long enough to make my point and make her re-evaluate her own actions. And hopefully next time she is having a bad day, she will not take it out on the patient. And maybe next time she will take a moment to step back from her own life and take into consideration the person sitting before her. Maybe not. It will be her choice…


At January 12, 2009 12:31 PM, Anonymous Roads said...

I'm so sorry about that, Skye. Sometimes you can see where the conversation is going, and you try to keep it on track, but ...

These people have no idea. Just no idea at all.

Kind regards from London. And spirits up.

At January 12, 2009 3:25 PM, Blogger Satine said...

There are times you just have to say something no matter the consequences, I agree... My brother just stood up for his wife--he suffered a fight and thick ankle for it... I stood up for something a month ago and suffered a twisted ankle and and split finger for it. At least you only had to deal with this woman's icey demeanor, but I am not trying to minimize emotional stress either. How inconsiderate of some people I dare say!

I just had some unexpected X-Rays and bloodwork done today myself, but thankfully my new doctor and her nurses are much, much more considerate of my feelings and never dismiss anything the way I felt my last doctor and her nurses did. I wish you better luck with someone more empathetic next time.

At January 15, 2009 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I currently blog on a secure site about my special needs daughter. When she was first diagnosed and I was going through my barrage of different emotions I, suprisingly, began to think about other people. I know you couldn't openly see the pain on my face when I was walking through a grocery store however my heart very much ached. I began to think of others around me - how did I know the man with the cart walking toward me wasn't just diagnosed with cancer? How do I know the woman in the produce isle hadn't just lost a child? I mean, I realized I need to think about others and be kind because secretly they may have a pain so deep that is hurting so bad that I can't see. I blogged about it and told people that read to be kind - when you want to cut someone off the road b/c they aren't driving the way you would - stop and think - did they just come back from a Dr.'s appointment where they didn't hear good news? Give them the benefit of the doubt that their day may be worse than yours and they may be having a hard time working through the emotions. Your post reminded me of what I was telling people.

Skye, I also used your postings about David to help me back toward the beginning when I was still hurting so bad. Many told me that I hadn't lost a child just a dream but to me the dream was everything. I remember reading your posts and thinking about your "bad days" and my "bad days". I realized that I did still have my child and my future chose me and I needed to thank God for what he gave me - most of all the determination and perserverence to make my child the best she can be. In my thoughts I considered your pain so much more significant to mine and realized I needed to change my attitude a bit.

So, I guess in essence, you have helped people - be better people. I hope your post helps everyone out there that reads it to know that your right...their bad day is not as bad as someone else's - they just might not know it.

thanks for sharing - I hope people like you help make this world a much nicer place.

At January 17, 2009 8:44 PM, Blogger Skye said...

Thank you Anonymous.
Your words honor me.
It shows your amazing compassion to be able to step outside your own pain and emotions and look to others around you and consider that they too might be surviving their own personal tragedies. Giving others the benefit of the doubt…

Loosing a dream can be heartbreaking. We both lost dreams of what we thought our futures would be. But I hope you realize that my pain or someone else’s is never more significant or catastrophic than your own. Caring for someone with disabilities is no easy task. A special few volunteer for this…but many of us do not. It is just where life leads us. Those we love are either born or through some event become disabled or in need of special assistance.

I am humbled by your words. But give yourself some credit as well. You have stepped up when life threw you a curve ball. You did that! But I am glad I inspired you as I am sure you have inspired many others as well…

At January 17, 2009 10:28 PM, Blogger Sara said...

People like that make me so angry. Even more so when she didn't apologize for pushing the birth control issue.

And people who have nothing better to do but complain about all the slack they have to pick up from "slacker" co-workers, are in the wrong profession. They are there for you and to listen to you, not to nit pick over who does what and who doesn't.

She was extremely unprofessional and I truly think you should report this incident, even more so for her not being apologetic.

Reading your blog angers me beyond belief and you had EVERY right to react the way you did. I'm saying this in case you have any doubt that you may have overreacted.

I am so sorry this person was like this to you, but you handled it well. *hugs*


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