Thursday, December 08, 2005

Prescription for Appreciation

Bedside at The Clanton Hacienda--There is an un-sung corps of workers today that deserve far more attention than they receive, are vastly underpaid (I suspect,) and without whom, many of us would literally not survive some of the things life throws in our path.

For the past four days, I have been the joint responsibility of a cadre of healthcare professionals at St. Luke’s Hospital in the Texas Medical Center in Houston. These dedicated men and women doted over me with fresh sheets and towels, collection and disposal of various bodily fluids, and endured my lame wit and absence of dexterity in handling simple electronic tools (like hospital TV remote control boxes). I never knew there were so many different ways of presenting a “clear liquid diet.”

When you go to the hospital, you check a lot of things at the door: Personal freedom, your sense of style, all modicums of modesty, and to an extent, personal responsibility—all bagged and tagged for when you leave.

Clothing is replaced by what must have been Mao’s wet dream in fashion advances: one-size-fits-most gowns, that are equally revealing coming or going. Modesty is practiced only by the nursing staff on themselves. Once the admission forms are completed, there’s very little in the way of personal responsibility with which you should trouble your head. They even give pills to make you poop.

I found the nursing staff at St. Luke’s to be kind and professional , going above and beyond the call of duty, whether it was for pain medication in the middle of the night, or working out the correct sequencing of events ("Why don't you shower before changing that dressing?," etc.)

I don’t think I will miss getting my vital signs checked every two hours the night following my operation, but knowing they were going to be close by and were checking on my wellbeing that first, pain-fogged night, was a comfort. And they knew all the answers.

So, my heart-felt appreciation, admiration, and thanks to Bill, Diane, Christine, Shelia, Shaneeka, and those who were but nameless faces in the pain-haze of that first overnight shift.

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