His Blood Is Pumping For Other Things

, , , , | Right | December 14, 2017

(I’m working a blood drive at a large VA hospital. We get some wonderful and interesting characters coming to donate but this guy — who reminds me forcefully of Lieutenant Dan from Forrest Gump — is responsible for one of the best exchanges I’ve ever had on the job.)

Me: “All right, next question: ‘In the last year, have you had any form of sexual contact with a prostitute?'”

Lt. Dan:Huh?

Me: ”’In the last year, have you had any form of sexual contact with a prostitute?'”

Lt. Dan: “Yup, I have.”

Me: *maintaining professionalism* “Well, sir, that will be a problem. I won’t be able to let you donate today.”

Lt. Dan: “What?! How come? I know she’s clean.”

Me: *involuntary chuckle* “Well, sir, it’s just that that’s considered a high-risk behavior, and we prevent you from donating for your safety, as well as for the recipient of the blood.”

Lt. Dan: “I suppose that’s fair. How long before I can donate again?”

Me: “One year from the last time you were with a prostitute.”

Lt. Dan: “Hang on, young lady; are you telling me I can’t have sex with a hooker for a whole year if I want to donate?”

Me: *trying not to laugh* “Yes, sir, I’m afraid those are the rules.”

Lt. Dan: “Oh, s***. I can’t go a whole year. I’m out of here.”

Me: *breaking and laughing out loud* “That’s your call, sir. Feel free to grab some snacks on your way out.”

(At least he was honest!)

The Only Wrong Thing Here Is The Therapy

, , , , , , , | Friendly | December 12, 2017

(I am in bad shape after a rough breakup that involved several of my friends “choosing sides” in favor of my ex. This happens not long after my parents’ divorce, and I am also a senior in college with a thieving roommate. I am struggling daily with extreme stress and depression, and on a particularly bad day, I swallow a bunch of pills. A friend takes me to the hospital, where I am informed that my action has triggered some legal thing in which they must send me to a psychiatric unit, that I have no say in the matter, and that my friend must leave. I am horrified, ashamed, and alone. Hours later, after being locked in a dark hospital room, an “intake counselor” comes in and starts asking me questions before I’m taken to the psych unit. I answer him honestly and list all of the factors in the thunderstorm that was my life, including my parents’ divorce, a dear friend moving away, and my fiancé dumping me, and at the end of it all, I say:)

Me: “I just feel so abandoned, like people keep leaving me.”

Counselor: *puts down his pad, looks me straight in the eye* “Well, clearly, there’s something wrong with you.”

Me: “What?”

Counselor: “There’s something wrong with you, or people wouldn’t leave you. Something about you makes them leave.”

Me: *shocked and in tears* “There’s nothing wrong with me; I’m just having a hard time—”

Counselor: *cutting me off* “No. There’s something wrong with you. We’re going to take you to a place where they fix you. Then, this won’t happen anymore. We’re done. They’ll come for you soon.”

(He abruptly left, and I burst into tears, suddenly terrified by whatever this place was they were taking me to and what could be in store for me. The scary place turned out to be a rehab facility, not an electro-shock chamber with “A Clockwork Orange” eye clamps like I imagined, and I was actually able to get some help in dealing with my losses and grief. My friend who took me to the hospital continues to be amazing and helps me sort out things in my life so that I can get healthy. I have never gone back to that dark place, metaphorically or literally. Thankfully, when I told my parents about what the intake counselor said, they furiously called up the clinic. The clinic representative admitted it wasn’t the first time they had received complaints about how he talked to patients. A year later, I heard through my therapist with whom the clinic had placed me that the intake counselor had been let go. I was glad to hear, because his words haunted me, and still do to an extent.)

Their Medical Opinion Is Not Abs-olute

, , | Healthy | December 8, 2017

When I was in grad school I was hit by a car while walking home one night. At the time it appeared all I suffered was road rash and bruises and I was sent home from the ER pretty quickly, but over the next several months internal symptoms started manifesting, culminating in me being unable to eat or drink anything without suffering severe abdominal pain.

I’m home with my parents for the summer when it gets so bad they call me an ambulance and accompany me to the ER. Before anyone can tell the first person who sees me not to do so, they’ve put morphine in my IV, which I do NOT get along with, so when the doctor arrives to check me out I’m being terribly sick while my poor mother holds the bucket. The doctor takes one look at me (female, age 22) and starts lecturing me about the evils of binge drinking and really, if I’m going to drink enough beer to make me sick I deserve the consequences. By the time I could lift my head enough to see what was going on, two nurses and an orderly were holding back my dad from wreaking grave bodily injury on this idiot. (As it happens, never before or since have I ever had enough to drink that it made me sick.)

Turned out the impact trauma had caused intestinal adhesions which needed to be surgically cut loose so peristalsis would function normally again. No thanks to that idiot doc, or the four after him — the first doctor who actually listened to me and who performed the surgery that fixed everything was, not coincidentally, the only female doctor I saw through the whole ordeal. I have not seen a male doctor since!

Some Heart-Warming Explanations

, , | Healthy | December 7, 2017

(I have visited the cardiologist for EKGs and echoes every two years since I was born, and one year I am old enough to ask my doctor why I have to.)

Doctor: “You have a heart murmur. Arrhythmia and mitral valve prolapse.”

Me: “What’s that mean?”

Doctor: “Well, most people’s hearts have a steady two-beat. BUMP-bump, BUMP-bump, BUMP-bump, like a drummer. Your heart is like a jazz drummer, who just does whatever: BUMP-bump-bump, BUMP-bump-bump, BUMP, bump-BUMP, no bump. There’s extra beats and missed beats, with no pattern to it.”

Me: “What’s the other one?”

Doctor: “Imagine the hood of a Japanese convertible. The roof goes up, and when it comes back down, it fits perfectly into its base without problems, and is completely sealed. Now imagine the hood of an American convertible. When the roof comes back down, it doesn’t quite fit into the base; it’s off-center, and the air-conditioning will leak out and rain can get in. Your heart is an American car, and the valve is the convertible roof.”

(Two decades later, and I still love this doctor’s explanations to a confused kid.)

How To Be A Total As(thma)

, , , , , | Working | December 7, 2017

(I am five years old at this time. I have had trouble breathing, and so my mom takes me to the ER. Note that she is a nurse.)

Doctor #1: “What seems to be the problem?”

Mom: “She can’t breathe, and some of her symptoms are matching up to asthma.”

(The doctor examines me.)

Mom: “What is it?”

Doctor #1: “She’s fine. You can just take her home.”

Mom: “What? No! Look at her. Do you think she’s fine? I’m a nurse, and I can tell that this is asthma.”

Doctor #1: “Ma’am, I am part of the board of Asthma Awareness. She is fine.”

Mom: “No, she is not. If you will not listen to me, then I demand to see another doctor.”

Doctor #1: “Ugh. Fine.”

(My mom overhears this:)

Doctor #1: “[Doctor #2] We have one of THOSE moms in there. Just patiently listen to her and send her away.”

Doctor #2: *walks in and looks at me* “Oh my gosh! She needs to go to the ICU.”

(I went to the ICU. I made a full recovery, and my asthma was well controlled after I was diagnosed.)

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