The Normal Life

If I close my eyes, I think of what a wonderful life I’ve been blessed with. You see, the last few months have been unusually difficult. I keep waiting for the storm clouds to disintegrate and the warm, blue, sunny skies of a normal life to take over. I’m beginning to think that day may never get here, or may never arrive at all.

Six months ago, I lost my beautiful, vibrant and brilliant best friend, my mom. She and I had differences from time to time, but what child doesn’t? We always worked them out.

Just after mom died, dad was misdiagnosed with cancer. Luckily for all of us, he had an abscess that looked like cancer. He healed well with antibiotics. When that was through, dad had a very important eye surgery. He is now able to see where he could not before surgery.

And then there is me. I have been sick since March, Easter week to be precise. I’m still sick, but hoping and praying that the end is near. I’m tired. I’m so tired of the pain. I’m tired of just feeling sort of alright. I am tired of my house and relying on others. I’m tired of new problems cropping up. I’m just so tired.

So when I close my eyes, I imagine myself free from pain, free from my house, usually swimming or running or playing like I did as a kid. I see myself able to focus on life for more than 5 minutes. I want to run outside and play with my kids. I want to take my dogs on a walk. I just want to relish my normal life. The same life I took for granted. I will never take it for granted again. That is a promise after this ordeal.

My home is a sanctuary to me, but now it’s become my prison. It’s become the place I wish I wasn’t. I’m trapped. I can’t enjoy my summer because of how I feel. I couldn’t go swimming, my favorite thing to do, because I have a drain in my belly.

The summer will be over and still won’t be back at the job I love because of this, or so I fear. Will I ever heal? I will, eventually. Right now, though, it’s so difficult. I’ll keep my eyes closed and keep dreaming, perhaps. I’ll dream of ordinary and how in love and miss ordinary.
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T Minus 2 days

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And thus we find ourselves here. The hospital called twice, once to pre-register and once to go over allergies and medications. That is fine with me, however, I know I’ll have to go over it all again on Friday morning. Yippee! Oh what fun!

I am no stranger to surgeries, especially abdominal surgeries. This time is different though. This time is a really big surgery. I admit I’m scared, but I just want it to be over. I was struck by something during the pre-registration call this morning. They asked me to pay my $350 co-pay today. Since when did this start occurring? Isn’t it bad enough that I have a family to support and I’ll have no income to support them with? Now the hospital, which used to take payments, wants that much up front? Seriously? I’m struggling here to understand the efficacy of all this. What happens to those who don’t have it? My cyst is pre-cancerous. This is necessary. I need to get this out of my body. Is this what health care has come to?

I struggle to understand how hospitals expect me to rate them highly when they want my copay right now. Isn’t this supposed to be about patient care? How did this happen? I’ll tell you how. It happened when the government decided to get involved. I’ve been a registered nurse for 20 years and it’s a recent occurrence that hospitals have been run so far into the red that they have to make things this tough for patients. What if I tell them I won’t be able to pay my other bills if I pay them for a surgery I need? Do you think they really give a hoot? The answer is a resounding no. Hospitals, like every other business, have been forced to think about the almighty bottom line more and more and less about the happiness of their patients.

You will get loads of surveys in the mail after doctor’s visits and hospital stays. That’s administration for you. They go by numbers. How did our employees do on the surveys? And that’s all we employees are, a number. Luckily, for those we work with, we are much more than that number. We are human. We matter more than that number, but to those above us all, just a number on a survey.

The same is true all over healthcare which is changing the way healthcare is delivered. Its everywhere, not just in the hospital I’ll be at for my surgery. Everywhere. Too bad the people taking care of you and me aren’t allowed just to do a great job, that which they were called to do, without having government and administration breathing out orders as to how we do what we do. It even includes how long doctors are supposed to take for patients. Yep, you read that correctly. Don’t you like having a time restraint on how important you are! And now, we have to pay for our stay like a damn hotel stay! I guarantee, it’s no Ritz Carlton for my stay! Why should I have to pay first?

Thoughtfully perturbed in Illinois!