You have no idea what their back story is. You have no idea what journey they have walked, the places they have been or the darkness they have encountered. Think before you speak.
I am still focused on the recovery, the goals and getting my life back. But at the same time I am angry. Very very angry… that this has been allowed to happen.. that no one listened to me in the beginning and that ultimately the biggest fear I had at the start actually came true. So yes, I have every right to be very very angry.
But I know that this will not serve me well right now. I have bigger fish to fry, so to speak. However I do need to figure out the best way to deal with what happened yesterday, and inevitably will happen again, many many times I expect.
The insensitive rant
A patient came in yesterday, through ED. She walked in… did not physically look unwell, but I full well know that does not necessarily mean that what is happening is what you see. This patient, however, did not have that filter.
She given a bed space and left for a while. Her son was with her for a while, but then left. she then got up and kept pacing around the room looking over at me.
Now I keep my amputated leg well covered and disguised most of the time. So she couldn’t see anything. I was sitting up in bed playing on my phone or something, I can’t quite remember. She continued to keep looking over. I got the feeling she was looking for someone to talk to / rant at, She looked unsettled and agitated.
I continued to try and focus on what I was doing and ignore her, but she walked straight over to me and started talking to me whether I liked it or not.
She had had relatively minor surgery she said, they discharged her and she had been brought back in due to a haematoma, which needed more surgery to fix. She was really angry that this had happened and that she had to undergo more surgery. she was ranting about medical negligence and how it should never have happened. This was her 3rd hospitalisation apparently.
Now, this is all fair enough, but she had not stopped to think about who she was talking to and what my story might have been. She had no idea. She just ranted.
Now, I need to work out a response to that sort of thing, because my first reaction inside was anger. How DARE She shout about something relatively minor and non life threatening when I was here in hospital having had 6 surgeries, 2 of them emergency, and now I had actually LOST A LEG due to medical negligence further back down the line, a story that has dragged on over 18 months, not just a few minor surgeries over a couple of weeks. I just kept quiet, because I felt that anything I might have said at the point might not have been appropriate. Best to say nothing at all.
Don’t forget to think about others. you are not the only person in the world..
I don’t give a stuff what your story is. I did not ask you to talk to me. I did not ASK to have my leg chopped off and I did not want to talk about it to you or anyone else at this point.
Is your surgery life changing, will your surgery make you permanently disabled and mean you have to change absolutely everything you do for here till the end of your life? No. so shut the f*** up and leave me alone.
The friendly cleaner
The following morning a young lad (cleaner) came in to mop the floors. I took my earphones out to chat to him. He seemed nice enough. After the niceties he asked me straight out what I was in for. So I showed him the shape of the leg under the covers. Then we had a chat about the fact that it was an amputation, a brief back history and the fact that I had been in hospital multiple times in the last few months with several emergency surgeries. He then asked did I get to keep it.. and we went on to talk about rugby injuries and other stuff.
The insensitive patient was in the room in her bed, so could hear the whole conversation. I was kinda glad actually. sort of like Ha… stick that in your pipe and smoke it! She has not said a word to me since.
The difference was that I openly engaged in the conversation with the cleaner. I had made it clear that I did not want to talk to the insensitive patient. My earphones were still in and I was engaged in something else. She quite simply chose to interrupt me and make me listen to her.
Think before you speak
You just have no idea what the person you are talking to has been going through today, you do not know their back story, their struggles, you know nothing.
Think before you ask outright blatant questions. They might not want to talk to you.
Think before you start moaning about your own life. They might not want to listen, or worse, you might tread on some sensitive issues without even knowing.
Think before you speak. Timing is everything.