The Other Side
Sorrow. Fear. Uncertainty. “Hurry up and wait”. These are all things that run through my mind as I sit in the lobby of the outpatient surgery center at the hospital. The news of hurricane Florence flashes on the TV’s. There is a stranger sitting across the room reading the paper. I take a deep breath staring at the floor while I wait for my name to be called. It was in that moment I realize I have just become the patient.
I am so used to being on the other side of this, being the one answering the questions, not asking them; the one providing encouragement to the sorrowful, not the one who is grieving; being the care giver, not the one being cared for. Though this experience is not what I would choose for myself, I am thankful to be given the few opportunities I have had to be the patient. It has given me the ability to be able to understand and experience what it is like from the patient’s perspective, from not knowing what to expect, or what questions need to be asked, to knowing what it feels like moving through the system, waiting for test results and encountering hospital staff.
It feels much more natural to me to be the caregiver rather than the one needing care. But I suppose that being the patient does not “come naturally” to anyone. Being the patient who also happens to be a nurse, I at least have a good understanding of the healthcare system. I know the questions to ask and can comprehend the medical lingo. Most people are simply overwhelmed with the fact that they are dealing with a health issue that requires them to walk through the doors of a hospital in the first place.
This recent experience has reminded me of the importance of advocacy and care navigation. It fuels the passion that I have to ease people’s way through the patient experience, to help them ask the questions they did not think of, or to encourage them as they “hurry up and wait”. Let me be that person for you or someone you care about.