Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Deep End

I am going to share with you a post written by someone else, but I am finding it hard to describe. I was just as speechless when I read it.

People develop their belief system based on the information they have been given or sought out. Consequently, most people merely adopt the traditional beliefs of their family, church, friends and community and then interact with other like minded people, so most of our beliefs are rarely, if ever, challenged or disputed.

All of us carry on our daily lives, going to work, tackling chores, running errands, cooking dinner, attending church, using our belief system to navigate through the routine decisions and choices we make.

We think we know the people around us; our families, friends, neighbors, co-workers, our pastor, the clerk at the store. We innocently believe those people experience life much the same as we do. But, I think many of us go about our daily lives never really knowing the people we encounter or touch. We embrace our similarities and remain oblivious and often callous to our differences.

The following blog post was written and posted in our local newspaper, The Log Cabin Democrat, by a person who uses the moniker "Reader" and eloquently illustrates that many people experience our world much differently.

The Deep End
Submitted by Reader on Mon, 2010-04-19 14:37

President Obama’s memorandum on the rights of hospital visitation may not seem as important to others as it does to me personally. Throughout my life I have been confronted with situations which the current policy has affected, none of them positively.

While living in Atlanta, Georgia in the 90’s a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with liver cancer. James had no insurance and failed to seek medical help when the symptoms began. When he finally did, it was too late for medical miracles. During the two years he survived , I assisted often in taking him to doctors and Grady Memorial Hospital Clinics where he was being treated.

In the later stages of his disease he was admitted to Grady Hospital for care. The first time I visited him as a patient, began my shock at the reality of health care in the U.S., especially in large cities. I expected to be sent to his room or ward and find him in some comfort. He had been admitted two days earlier when I was out of town on business. When I asked what room/ward he was in, I learned he was in the emergency room. The information desk gave me instructions on finding the ER and I headed on my way. I was not prepared for the experience. As I walked toward the ER I was surprised to see it looked a lot like the airport. Armed security guards asked me who I was visiting and if I had any guns. The puzzled look on my face did not alter the serious look on theirs. I answered “no” and was told to remove all metal objects so I could go through the metal detector to gain access to the ER. Even though my walk through the metal detector did not set off any alarms, they used the wand too. After clearing the metal detector they asked who I was there to visit, then confirmed the name I gave was a patient who was allowed visitors. After gathering my pocket possessions I headed down the hallway to the ER. I was surprised to find my friend, on a stretcher in a hallway, complete with an IV and a blood pressure monitor attached. The hallway was busy and doctors, nurses, patients and other visitors hurried and wandered past frequently. There was absolutely no privacy. An extension cord for the BP monitor stretched down the hall to one of the curtained rooms.

Trying to hide my shock at the conditions did not work. James immediately asked if I was OK. How odd, I thought. It should have been the other way around. In the room closest to his feet, the moaning sounds of someone in pain were easily overheard. James said he (himself) would be getting a room in a “day or two”. We discussed the situation and the person moaning in the room. James said he was dying from brain lesions caused by AIDS and the hospital was trying to give him some privacy in his last hours. It turns out he had been in the hallway with James for the last two days, moving into the curtained room, only that same morning. The noises coming from the room often changed to painful grunting and labored breathing. He was suffering intermittent seizures and making sounds I find hard to describe. I asked if anyone was with him and James said no. It seems his family would not come to the hospital because they were unable to deal with his AIDS. His life partner was in the waiting room, but could not gain access because the family had prohibited visitors. The medical staff could not do anything to relieve his agony and was overwhelmed with those they could help.

James asked if I would go out and bring the man’s partner back to visit him, and then he could sneak in to be with his partner. I was able to find the suffering mans’ friend in the waiting room. I told him he could come with me and to tell the security guards he was there to see “my” friend. The ruse worked and after clearing the metal detectors we headed to the E.R. hallway. The whole time I had been there no one had gone in the room with the patient anyway so no one would probably catch on. The man’s friend waited a minute before sneaking in behind the curtained room. Moments after he did, I could hear the muffled sounds of his weeping.

I had failed to notice when we got back, the sounds from the other patient had stopped. Within a few minutes, his partner came out of the room, devastated by his loss. It seems while I went to get him in the waiting room, his partner had passed, alone. The shock of the day’s events overwhelmed me. James and I wept openly with him. The man said something before he left, I still think of in difficult times. He said his Mom had told him when he was young to stay out of the deep end of the pool because he was too young and not prepared to swim there. He said “She didn’t warn me about the deep end of life.

I am still without words...

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