It’s hard not to be narrow of mind when our instincts immediately detect negativity. A certain tone in a voice, like a note in a song that instantly makes you feel a certain way, can paint the outcome of a situation – before it even begins. Confusing intensions without reason, from a tone that wants to be distinguished as powerful, can make for a horrible experience. I had such a horrible experience yesterday. Where we go to get well, I ended up getting sick. What should have been comforting, turned into unimaginable and unnecessary stress. Allow me to elaborate…
I started being underestimated many years ago in such an environment when I would take my sick mom to see specialists in hospitals all over Toronto. At the time I was only twenty years old, so I understand how my age could impart a lack of confidence from doctors in my ability to know the complexity of my mom’s brain injury after a ruptured brain aneurysm. But I had done my homework – my mom’s life depended on it – and I was ready to confidently and kindly suggest certain rehabs or medications for my mom when I sat down in front of white cloaks – I mean coats – of scepticism and arrogance galore.
Disclaimer: Not ALL caregivers are like this…but these are my experiences with the ones who are.
I got used to having to prove that I knew what I was talking about at every appointment. Slowly, as the conversation evolved, the specialist would start to respect my suggestions and stop trying to scurry me and my mom out of the office. Over time, I stopped being a waste of time in their eyes, and developed respected relationships with many of them – but doing so was exhausting! As I would drive home from these appointments, with my mom asleep in the passenger seat not able to speak or even remember who I was, and my daughter who was one year old and my brother who was five years old in the back, I would think to myself how great it would finally be to be older and less underestimated. Sigh…or so I thought.
Fast forward to yesterday. I am at the hospital with my daughter who requires emergency surgery (she is ok – thank God), and the energy it takes me to express the dire need of her care is exhausting! I feel like I’m twenty years old again as I am brushed off over and over again and made to feel like I am a just a kid who couldn’t possibly know what I’m talking about. Now I get that there is always two sides to every story, and that this is only one, but after being lied to by a care provider who is supposed to be hitting the highest level on my trust-o-meter, I feel I have a valid side to share.
It makes me so sad, and mad, when I feel like I need to put on my proverbial boxing gloves to be respected and listened to. Not ok! Especially when the care I am fighting for is for my child. Every parent deserves to feel secure and comfortable with their child’s care from the beginning to the end of a hospital visit.
I have been known to speak my voice from time to time…(eye roll I’m sure from many- lol), and I will continue to do so as long as necessary to evoke positive change in this world. In fact, a letter is on it’s way to the CEO of the hospital, because no parent should ever have to experience what I did; nor should any child. If you are reading this blog and you think that maybe it’s you that I’m speaking about, I welcome the opportunity to discuss my experiences with you next to me in the CEO’s office – not to be a bitch – but to educate and make a change.
My daughter is comfortable and well – that is truly what matters – and I will fight for her care until the day I die. But I shouldn’t have to. I live in Canada and have healthcare that is accessible and definitely not taken for granted by myself. If you are a healthcare provider, you are not granted permission to be rude to any human being because of that. In fact, as a healthcare provider, you should be compassionate toward every person you meet – regardless of age, gender, lifestyle, and beyond. Patients and their families are scared when they are at a hospital and need to be reassured that they will be ok, and arrogance NEVER accomplishes that.
Tomorrow I will be underestimated again – I have resigned myself to that fact – and tomorrow I will continue to fight for what’s right, no matter how exhausting it is.