Many of you have read the history about surviving an stroke, by Jorge Martínez Reverte published in El País last week. I wanted to share it on Saturday, so this post is for 3 days the center of the blog and can be read by many people. I hope you’re better, Jorge. I send you a big hug.
For me, there is a damning phrase, which stands out among all in his story:
There is no other way as putting the shoes of the other to understand.
My father has an abdominal oncologic disease for 19 years, and he is now in terminal phase. A week ago, about 5 AM, he phoned me to tell that he had to go to the Hospital because he had a terrible abdominal pain. So, after leaving my daughters at home of my mother-in-law, I went straight to the Emergency Room.
By luck and knowing the system, I had contacted with a friend and companion to receive my father and take him out first. When I arrived, I stayed quiet to know he was in a reasonable position, and they were doing some tests. The waiting room was empty at that hour, so there were my mother and I waiting for. And sharing that difficult moment.
After 5 hours, the room was already something like a market: transfer of people, noise, tears, there was even an steal!. Everyone who was sitting looked at the same yellow wall, in perfect order static, as if we were the chess pieces before start the game.
So I phoned back my colleague to know how my father was: “They are doing tests. There is much mess, you know”.
Finally we went to see him, and indeed he didn’t have bad paint: lying in a hallway, in “double row of patients”. Tired and sore, just done a test, an electrocardiogram and an x-ray of the chest and abdomen. Privacy zero, silent zero, impossible empathy, insufficient attention. At that time, we had to change the pijama of my father and the first response was: “There are no sheets”. The second: “I think I have one hidden here”. And before the astonished eyes of the Assistant when I said “would you mind to help you?”, finally we got a priori impossible goal.
At the time, a friendly doctor informed me how was my father, and she wanted to do an abdominal TAC given their medical background.
The hospital was collapsed in an imbalance common unfortunately: too many patients, more tan usually by the flu epidemic (not said our grandmothers flu spent at home?) and insufficient staff that do what they can, as those jugglers of circus engaged in maintaining 20 plates spinning in the air. Too accustomed to work against the clock and not be able to enjoy what they are doing.
As a physician, I understood the system but I saw it as a huge sumo wrestler that costs move, and also does so with reluctance, completely understandable. It is not sustainable.
As a son, I felt violated the right to be: with my father, and informed. And of course I was afraid that he could had a perforation. Doctors know both good and evil.
As family and physician, I was trying to channel the anguish of my mother and the frustration of my brothers who tried to escape from the work as soon as possible.
After another 5 hours finally a TAC was made: a stone in the kidney. I sighed relieved, although I thought: “This is cruel, give away a kidney stone to a terminal cancer patient”. So we finally left the hospital. 6.30 AM to 6 PM.
If I had written this post the next day, surely I would have repented because first of all, we are people. And I felt much anger.
A few reflections, namely: we should not colapse the system as users, eliminate the waiting rooms and let families to participate in the care, inform frequently and treat people as we would like to be treated. Together lets going to seek the solutions. Listening to all voices.
Because only one thing is clear: disease is a democratic process. It is only a matter of time lying on that bed of Emergency Service.
We usually say “That´s life”. But really this is life and death,