Observations from a health consumer

So far not one of my doctors, nurses or specialists have undertaken chemotherapy. I have asked the direct question. They throne up and decree, offer asides of other travellers’ journeys second and third hand, leaving out crucial details, and point you in the direction of a community organisation that can offer support. Some make thoughtless statements based from arrogance and ignorance. Systems, policies and procedures fail vulnerable people who need care, some individuals who are in direct and indirect roles fail the most vulnerable people when they least need it. It is systemic and the following observations are based on direct personal experience.
Vocation, chaff from wheat
My mother was a nurse. She had the right balance between skill ability and humanist disposition. You get good at a quick evaluation of capability after days in hospital especially in isolation. It is in the approach to land. Some nurses introduce themselves, and you are clear by their willingness to respond when you need assistance, that you are not a hindrance. Others, work efficiently to undertake the task, like a well practiced waiter and appear and disappear without ceremony. Others fail to respond to your call bell for over an hour, and find you hysterical with your head under the pillow sobbing for someone to stop the 2 second repeat high pitched alarm. All of them work under difficult conditions, many on 3 month short term contracts, on working visas and a deal with a multitude of expected and unexpected medical conditions, including those awaiting transfer to facilities for brain damage. Pay nurses more? Why are we debating this!!
Software systems
Administrative medical staff are the front line of a general practice, specialist or consultant and/or hospital liaison, at all points of interaction from enquiry to consultation, admission to discharge. Patients are not inconveniences, interruptions to social conversations, annoyances to which a scowling demeanour or sharp word is the cure. The objective should be to ensure that administrative processes do not delay or distress an individual. That vital information is obtained and secured in software so that subsequent retrieval of data is streamline and efficient. This is not the case with the Emergency Department of Bunbury Regional Hospital. The evening of my admission, the simple act of requesting of personal information from a young man in his thirties, and the simple fact that the software program did not retain specific data fields resulted in frustration and fear. This was a simple stupid software failure. Security was called to calm the man down, though it was unnecessary, as he was reasonable, but distraught regarding the welfare of his friend who had been admitted and frustrated by the waste of valuable time in the pursuit of data. He simply wanted to be beside his mate, when his mate needed him.
I have been blessed with an outstanding administrative work team, and as their manager, I have reinforced specific customer service approaches which has been harmonious to team development. These have centred on personality traits, emotional intelligence and empathy for others, individual approaches to problem solving and conflict resolution.
Baby talk
There appears a need to engage in baby talk as if an unwell person has automatically lost capacity to understand the complex and that they should simply not worry their pretty little bald head over it and do what the good doctor says. Or conversely empty praise for being a brave girl for handling yet another stinging insertion of a cannula at 5.00 in the morning after a sleepless night of vomiting and sweating. It is in the narrowing of some practitioner’s eyes that you are processed as one of those ‘anxious’ who will resist, ask questions and frankly refuse to play until full information is revealed. Your type is not to be trusted. You may just expect a service from an industry that used to delivering an old product in a recycled wrapping.
Semantics of language
It is an established fact that side effects exist and Western medicine is peppered with the legal requirements to list all potential in categories of common, rare and life- threatening. However, I have been boldly informed that they are no side-effects only reactions. It appears that side effects are not a regular question posed when a new drug is introduced. On more than one occasion there has been an exasperated expelling of air from a nurse or specialist, that this additional Internet activity was unnecessary and out of the usual scope of response.
Your body, their responsibility
There is a false comfort in the surrendering of your body to the care of others. While it can appear paternally comforting to surrender, it is not the same experience by a long shot. I have longed for my deceased mother to bring in a tray with a half an orange sprinkled with sugar and a silver spoon, toast soldiers and a boiled egg, miniature crystal vase with a singe rose and a porcelain crinoline lady in pink that hid a bell beneath her gown. Instead I have battled to remain as one of the team in my health recovery. I have spent days in isolation, blood regularly being taken, to finally refusing to have any more taken until someone speaks to me regarding the state of my health. This is not being anxious, this poor customer service!


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