Eleanore Vs. The Hospital Myth

Dear readers who are positively rad (that’s all of you),

The day before yesterday I wrote this post (click the blue stuff to read after), and part of it explained how I am currently in intense pain that is more painful than usual. I was fighting back as best I could to keep from ending up in the hospital. Sadly all my efforts failed, and by 9pm that night I was once again in the Emergency Room, a place I’m way too familiar with. Really, I mean I should get an achievement by now or something.

I won’t write too much about my experience since it was mostly the same sort of thing I’ve gone through a thousand times before. However I am grateful that I can say that I am okay, and while I’m still in terrible pain I’m also fairly high on muscle relaxants. So I’m going to be alright in the end, though this post may be shorter than usual because as it turns out, articulate writing and drugs don’t work well together.

This particular trip to the hospital got my mind to contemplate all the aspects of being chronically ill, mainly the ones which are out of my control. Thursday night I was in the waiting room for six and a half hours. Usually you wait two to three, so this was longer than I had waited in a long time. There wasn’t a massive crowd in the waiting room, but they weren’t letting many people in. Many patients in the waiting room became livid, yelled at the desk attendants and stormed out, while others quietly left and told the people they were with that they’d simply go to a doctor the next day. For me personally, though spending nearly seven hours in a waiting room is not my ideal way to spend a Thursday night, the ER is currently the only way for me to see a doctor, and since I was at least half sure that I’d die from the pain I was enduring I stayed put.

Around 1 a.m a lovely woman who had come in halfway through my night came up to me and said through her paper mask that the hospital had received 11 traumas that night, which was why they weren’t letting anyone else in, but that nearly all of those people were about to be discharged, so things were going to pick up shortly. I was so thankful that she had shared this information with me as I was exhausted, aching, and altogether over my existence. Two hours later, I was finally in a hospital bed.

This whole situation had me frustrated, sure, but not entirely with the hospital. In fact, I told my nurse after he had apologized over and over for the wait that I wasn’t angry with him, but at the people who were treating him so rudely. “I understand that there are other people in more dire emergencies than I am,” I told him. This lead me to what I have decided to call The Hospital Myth. It goes as follows:

Some people believe that going to the hospital will seamlessly fix all their issues. They also believe that being in the hospital means that a person is completely safe and incapable of getting more sick or hurt.

A few years ago I got into a fight with a friend. At one point, she told me something along the lines of it was easier for me to be in the hospital than it was for her to go through her current situation because I was safe there. I have been insulted by countless people and have had a large collection of disdainful words flung at me by friends and family for all types of reasons. I’ve forgiven and forgotten most of it, but this is certainly one of the more difficult ones to let go. It was by far one of the most insulting things I had ever been told, and I have been called every awful name in the book, so that’s saying something. On the bright side though, it did bring about this situation I call The Hospital Myth. 

While of course we would like to think that we are entirely safe in the hospital and that they take all our pain away with their magic medical fairy dust, it just simply isn’t true. Doctors and nurses save lives every single day and we’d be absolutely fucked without them, and though they put all their passion and strength into helping us, sometimes everything they’ve got is still not enough.

I have nearly died in the hospital. I have passed out, I have screamed and writhed in agony as people scrambled to help me but couldn’t scramble fast enough. The reality is there is nothing easy about being in the hospital, whether it is for twelve hours or twelve days. While of course there is relief in being in the best possible place for when disaster comes surging through your body, there isn’t relief in catheters making your body parts sore, uncomfortable beds, and the general inability to go about a normal life. There’s also the whole, you know, being sick and in pain thing; a complete killjoy.  For the thousandth time, I repeat: there is nothing easy about being in the hospital. The fact that people think that being hospitalized isn’t traumatic, stressful and intense is insulting to both the patients and the nurses.

I truly believe that chronically ill people, doctors and nurses have some of the most challenging jobs on the planet. There’s nothing soothing or easy about it. In any of those jobs, even when things go right, the happiness is muted by more “what ifs,” exhaustion, and plans for recovery. The fact that many people, and even some of those who are or who once were close to me, think that being chronically ill and constantly rushed to doctors is anything but arduous honestly breaks my heart.

Likewise, the patients who get angry when they have to wait or don’t immediately get results also frustrate me. Believe me, I have had horrible experiences with doctors and nurses. I have been misdiagnosed, given wrong medications, and have had my condition worsen by things that have gone wrong in the hospital. I have several time left feeling worse instead of feeling better. I know more than most that there are bad experiences to be had. But all of this comes with being chronically ill. People such as myself have to accept that we will sometimes have to wait in the waiting room for 7 hours because the hospital is overloaded with 11 critical patients and several gunshot victims, that sometimes the doctors won’t know what to do with us right away and will leave you in the ER for two days straight to figure it out, or that even when they do, they won’t have much to tell us about the diagnosis, and will have to send us somewhere else to get help they just cannot give.

Regardless of what side of the medical situation you are on, it is not effortless. It takes a lot of strength to get up every day when my body is drowning in pain, and it is even worse weeks like these when my daily pain is aggravated by new pain, like the nerve inflammation and muscle spasming I am experiencing right now. It’s not unchallenging to keep yourself from falling to pieces when stuck in an Emergency Room waiting for a result that could either be nothing, or devastating.

I have been called a baby, weak, hypochondriac, and many other lovely labels for the fact that I cry easily, I am very expressive about my pain, and that I am in Emergency Rooms more than I’d like to be. On the contrary, I am learning as I get older that fighting against all of my diagnoses on a daily basis and being transparent about it takes an enormous amount of strength that most days I don’t feel I have. I usually feel fragile, frustrated, and altogether dysfunctional, yet I keep struggling through my life; and there are millions of others just like me. Occupying my body is most likely one of the hardest jobs I will ever have. I don’t know how I am doing, but I’d like to think I’m doing alright so far, and I’m hoping to stick with it until I’m 80 or so.

Long story short, people like me are fucking badasses. Hopefully this doesn’t come off as self-indulgent. Considering I generally have confidence the size of a jelly bean and this week has been far too painful, I’d like to think I’m allowed on this occasion to say that I’m good enough to be considered for a Marvel hero.

Okay…maybe that’s a bit much. But you get the point. At least my hospital gown matched my eyes this time!

SooooooOOOOOOOOOOO SAD.

~ I am so Sad, so Very, Very Sad – Crash and the Boys (Scott Piglrim Soundtrack) 

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8 thoughts on “Eleanore Vs. The Hospital Myth

  1. I absolutely know what you mean. I just spent two days in the hospital after having brain surgery and it was such an arduous experience. I didn’t even sleep the entire time I was there. On the flip side, I also work at the same hospital I get my care at, so when I’m a patient I know about everything that’s really going on behind the scenes, so that makes me a bit more sympathetic for the stressed out staff. Hope you feel a little better soon! Gentle hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know you have had a huge journey with your brain surgery. I am going to catch up on my reader today and I have been wanting so badly to read all your posts but my life has been slightly out of control. Expect a deluge of comments and likes from SicklyStardust momentarily.

      That’s incredible that you work at the hospital as well! I truly believe that both sides MUST has sympathy for the other. It makes the whole ordeal of being hospitalized far more pleasant for everyone involved, and I pride myself on making nurses and doctors laugh at 4am when we’re all dead tired.

      I hope you are recovering well from your surgery. I think you’re wonderfully brave for facing such a scary surgery.

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  2. When I first got sick with “yuppie flu” (and what a demeaning label that was!) more than 30 years ago, my doctor gave me every applicable medical test there was. There was no diagnosis and no treatment. I was fortunate that this excellent man did not question my sanity: he asked me if the symptoms present as psychosomatic to me and took my work for it when I told him that I knew what my body did and I had never seen this before! He patted me on the shoulder (paternalistic, I know — but he was older than me and it was actually some comfort) and told me that whatever it was, it wasn’t killing me, and I should just go home and wait for it to go away as mysteriously as it had come. That kept me going for a while. I couldn’t even tell the man how intense the pain was but, during a short period of remission of the worst symptoms, while I was visiting with a dear friend dealing with terminal lung cancer, we discussed methods of dealing with pain — e.g. relaxing into it and watching it. (This is NOT advice to you on how to deal with your own situation.) The point is, my pain was on the same level with a man on his death bed who had been prescribed morphine. I had no pain killers at all. And it was probably just as well, I was struggled to do the minimal amount absolutely necessary to supervise and care for our four children — ages 2 1/2 to 14, while my husband worked long hours at a demanding new job in a brand new city for all of us. (I fell ill with a bad case of “flu” while we were moving.) My point is — I am with you all the way about hospitals NOT being guaranteed safe places. I have never been hospitalized for my own chronic illness. It may be because I am so sensitive to pharmaceuticals so I have never over-medicated in an attempt to be “normal” again and thus over done it and crashed! Plus, I have a high pain tolerance and that aids me in toughing it out. And let’s not forget one big thing I have going for me: a husband who has stuck it out through the worst of my illness. And a good dog. Both help care for me when I need to retire from the world and all responsibilities. Enough about me: You are to be admired for persevering even when others are less than compassionate and offer glib advice and unhelpful comparisons. Thank you for your clarity even from a hospital bed. May your stay be helpful and you return home feeling better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I honestly cannot thank you enough for your incredible comment. Thank you for sharing your experience as well. I cannot believe they called it a “yuppie flu,” how dreadful! It is lovely that you have a good support system though, I feel like that makes a world of difference for people who are chronically ill. I unfortunately don’t have much of that and I often get upset about it because I feel if I did have a better support system I would have a better shot at life. I also totally understand about the high pain tolerance- despite my emotional squishiness I think most people would go completely mad if they were in as much pain as I am every day. I appreciate your well wishes and input, I am home now and still in pain but home is certainly preferable to the hospital bed!

      Like

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