My life lately is a lot like Charlie Brown vs. the football

As I watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown last night, I began to see the similarities between the show and myself as I navigate the road to recovering from cancer. I haven’t started chemo yet so right now I am at the mercy of being scheduled for “this” surgery or “that” test.  On top of that, I often need to drive quite a distance to accommodate these procedures.  Just when I think I’m finally making progress, I get hit with another surprise.  Here are some examples of my journey so far:

1.)  I scheduled a laparoscopic surgery to prevent cancer and instead I learned that I have ovarian cancer.

2.)  After several days of recovering at home after having a radical hysterectomy, I woke up one morning – literally – to a weeping seroma.  Although this is common, I now had an open wound to treat.  (In all actuality, the weeping speeds up the healing process but I didn’t know this when I first woke up that Saturday morning with a damp nightshirt.)

3.)  I had a CAT scan last week where I was originally informed that I would need to drink a contrast before the test.  I mixed this as instructed and dutifully drank it on time.  I found out when I got to the medical center that there is an IV that is also required.  This news was not originally given to me because according to the tech, most people are afraid of needles.  I am a 4-gallon blood donor who has no fear of needles and I informed her of this.  I also told her that since I had to drive 1 1/2 hours to have the test done, I did not hydrate myself because I did not want to stop every 30 minutes searching for a rest room. Therefore, the tech had to try more than once to get the IV in.

In all of the cases above, I felt like Charlie Brown did each time he was given a rock when he went trick-or-treating.  In addition, I was literally lying on my back much like Charlie Brown is with stars spinning over his head after he has missed the football.    However, also like Charlie Brown, I am the eternal optimist in that I think I’m going to “kick that football all the way to the moon” each time.   I have no doubt that I will succeed.

I am more than “Who’s next?”

I have had two surgeries (an oophorectomy and then a radical hysterectomy) and am healing well according to my gynecologic oncologist. Before I start chemotherapy, my incision needs to finish healing and all my tests need to be complete. Last week, I had a CAT scan and EKG and today I had lab work done at my local medical center.  The resounding theme that keeps coming to me is that more than anything, I want to be treated as a person and not as “Who’s next?”

My doctor nor her staff fall into this category but others who work in medical facilities are guilty of this impersonable approach.  I am referring to the person who completes the registration process so that tests can be done as well as others who perform the tests.  These employees have a revolving door of new faces sitting in front of them throughout their workday.  I understand their need to “keep a distance” so as not to get personally attached to patients.  I also understand that there are time constraints and they don’t want to cause a back-up of patients and lose precious time.  However, plain ol’ common courtesy has evidently gone by the wayside.  No eye contact.  No “Good Morning.”  No “How are you feeling today?”  Just “Who’s next?”

If these hard-working individuals would realize that they are the first people I see when I come in for what are deemed “routine tests,” perhaps they would change their demeanor to be a bit more pleasant and potentially diffuse a somewhat stressful situation rather than exacerbating it.  These tests or procedures may be “routine” to them because they see them/perform them all day, everyday.  They are not “routine” to me because I am not “routine” – I am one woman who has a name, who has feelings, who happens to be a cancer patient that needs to have these tests done, and who would like to be seen as such rather than as “Who’s next?”

A simple greeting and some eye contact would be welcomed with open arms by this gal who must endure “routine tests” on her road to recovering from cancer.

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