Friday, June 5, 2009

Deja vu

I went to see me old oncologist this week, and yesterday I had CT scans - I think these must be about my 8th now. It's been almost 5 years now since I completed treatment for Hodgkin's, and so far so good.

It was a strange feeling being back at the hospital though. It brought back all kinds of memories of being a patient, being sick. You know, all those medical dramas on TV always present the story from the doctor's point of view, and I think it must be because the patient's world is so surreal and absurd that it's too difficult to portray accurately... (Not that Grey's Anatomy is committed to medical accuracy or anything. But still.)

For one thing, there's that strange feeling of being an outsider. In your typical hospital, there are people with badges, people in scrubs, official people scurrying all around you. They barely give you a glance. They are clearly up to something important. And then there's you, wandering the halls, seemingly the only patient in the building until you find your way into a waiting room. It's almost as if you are intruding on the doctor's world, even though the whole place couldn't exist without you - the patient.

And then of course, for me, there's the whole perky young blonde thing. I never fit in in the oncology department, in the chemo room, in the radiation waiting area. Everyone else was so old, so frail, and just worn down by it all. I don't know if the other patients felt sad seeing someone as young as me being treated for cancer, or envious of my energy. Likewise, I always wondered how the doctors and nurses viewed me: with pity? Or even worse, did they hardly think of me at all? Even now, married and a mother, I stand out.

I was lucky - I had one doctor (out of the many) who treated me like a human being, who asked about my relationships, who was sympathetic to my financial situation. That is the doctor I still go back to when I'm in New Orleans, even though she has moved twice since Hurricane Katrina. The rest of them...well, they gave me good medical care, which from their point of view seems to be all they felt they were obligated to do. Your view of doctors also changes when you spend a lot of time in hospitals.

So hopefully I am done with the poking, the nasty chemicals I have to drink, the nurses trying to find one of my tiny veins to stick, the holding still for everything...I can get back to just being Gwyneth, not Gwyneth the sicko. Until next year, at least.


Joan said...

I wish you could post this where doctors will see it, but I have to say that the docs I have worked with have always been approachable and friendly, showing their human side while yet being professional.But there's such a lesson to be learned here, not just for doctors, but all medical personnel.

Jesse said...

Here's to you being the Gwyneth we love and adore - full of health and perkiness - for many, many years to come.