The Tale of Two Patients

One of the great opportunities a cancer patient has is to visit the doctor often. Since we are close to some important anniversaries I get to visit many doctors' offices this month. Recently I was in an imagining office and I had to wait about 90 minutes for some Beryllium to work it's way through my  body. 

In walked a large man with his wife. He was using a cane and was having great difficulty walking. He was slow and prodding. I actually felt empathy for him and his wife. He looked like he was in pain. Then I heard him talk. 

"We can't sit there! The sun will shine in my face," he said a little too loud and sharply for my heart. "Didn't I tell you that I wanted to sit with my BACK to the window. Find a different chair." 

Now there were about five groupings of chair, and only a few were taking and most were away from the window.

They sat down and were behind me. I tried to ignore them, but he wouldn't speak softly and it was hard to ignore him. His words to his wife were not very kind and actually made me cringe. She would read off the questions and he would answer.

"When was your last MRI?" she asked.
"You were here with me, don't you remember?" he replied.
"How much pain are you in now?" she would read from the sheet.
"I'm off the scale, can't you tell!" he replied.

Many more questions she would quietly read and he would loudly and rudely answer. He was belittling to her and I almost stood up and said, "How can you treat your caretaker so rudely? She is only trying to help." The person who was sitting across from me looked up at me and we both kind of rolled our eyes in agreement in acknowledging his rudeness to his wife. 

It continued when the receptionist came to him and told him that he had more paperwork to fill out and that his test will have to be pushed back 30 minutes because he was late by 30 minutes. (Beryllium has to take it's time through your body.) His words to her were some of the harshest I've heard from a human being towards another. She was more than professional. She was kind and understanding and even asked if rescheduling was necessary. 

"Are you crazy? I would have to drink this (insert a bad word) again. I will just sit here and watch this (insert another bad word) TV program." They had a PBS program on Hawaii playing and I though it was very nice and calming in a waiting room full of anxious patients.

She walked away so professionally.

Now on the other side of the room was a man about my age who obviously was in a lot of emotional discomfort. He didn't want to be there and he didn't want to do what some doctor has asked him to do. On top of that because of whatever he was there for he had to do a lot of waiting.

Nurse #1 took him back for a set of tests. He was very kind to the nurse. He then came back out to wait for nurse #2 take him back for another set of tests. He went back for those test and returned.

The nurse #1 came back and said, "The tests didn't show what the doctor wanted so we need to do them again." He stood up and went willing with the nurse. He returned shortly with yet another bandage on his arm. (He must have had some sort of IV contrast.)

Then the nurse #2 came and told him that his films were ready and handed him a CD. He said something like "I thought my doctor wanted films." She then said, "Oh, right. That's my fault. Do you have a moment to wait for me to print them out?" He said, "Of course."  

She returned with the films and he graciously took them and walked out of the office. 

These two incidents happened at the same time. Both patients didn't want to be there (I didn't either), and the way the staff worked with them was the same gracious and beyond kind. I'm sure the quiet gentleman wasn't there for good news, just as the loud man wasn't there. None of us were. But attitude means a lot!