Friends Don’t Let Friends…
Friends don’t let friends go to doctors’ appointments alone. Yesterday was Aidan’s pre-op appointment for his hip surgery in March. Oh my word. It was an all day process. I feel like I went through a bizarre initiation process. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. This is a MAJOR MEDICAL CENTER. Once you leave a small local hospital (where we have received excellent care) and go to a MAJOR MEDICAL CENTER, everything about the experience intensifies. It’s BIGGER and MORE CROWDED and generally gives you the anxious feeling that IMPORTANT THINGS ARE HAPPENING. (yes, I’m yelling at you in all caps so you can share in the intensity.)
I learned my lesson after Aidan’s eye surgery years ago not to go alone to certain medical appointments. My friend Amanda joined me yesterday. Not only is she a wonderful friend and brave Boston driver, she’s a MAJOR MEDICAL CENTER mom. I know there are some readers with MAJOR MEDICAL EVENTS coming up and I want to encourage you to bring a friend for the following reasons:
- I needed an extra pair of hands, someone to carry the coats and extra paperwork and box of chocolate croissants (those were our reward for not being completely OVERSTIMULATED and ROCKING IN A CORNER so just shush about it). She fed Aidan and entertained him and hung out with him while I signed papers.
- I needed an extra pair of ears. This was by far the best thing Amanda brought to the table. She took notes. She asked clarifying and follow up questions. We saw six different people and she reminded me when one had said to make sure another would answer a question. She remembered the name of the nurse we needed to ask for to draw blood because Aidan is a hard stick. Yesterday was an ONSLAUGHT OF INFORMATION and there was no way I was going to retain it all. She’s typing up her notes and sending them to me.
- I needed someone who was knowledgable but one step removed. At the end of the day I said to my husband, “I love you so much but I’m really glad you weren’t there today.” He got it. He would have been just as OVERWHELMED as me. Amanda, because of her own experience with having a child in the hospital, was able to offer great insight but not be as emotionally drained (though I hear she needed a tubby and a glass of wine at the end of the day too).
- I needed a level headed friend. We ran into one very small medical issue that I had to process with her on the ride home. I thought maybe I should just fix the problem even though it would be a huge stressor for me and possibly not the best medical decision. She reminded me that this was a MAJOR MEDICAL CENTER and that they would figure it out. Then she followed up with an email at the end of this very EXHAUSTING DAY to say, “You are so skilled with the medical/doctor stuff, yet you remember to snuggle and comfort your sweet boy the whole time. It was precious to watch your tenderness with him today, even in the midst of dealing with the details of the upcoming surgery.” That was a perfect end to a long day.
And this is what I so appreciated about the medical staff yesterday:
- They were clear. By the end of the day I had a list of who was following up on what. The doctor explained the surgery and risks thoroughly.
- They treated me like part of the team. They asked me several times what I understood about the surgery. I got to use my big words like “subluxation” and “acetabulum.” Hey, I went to Yale, you know. (disclaimer: no, I totally didn’t.) It’s in the best interest of their patient, my son, to make sure I understand the process. They took their time to answer my questions or made sure I would get the right answer from the right person. I was told several times that they would follow my lead in pain management since I can read Aidan best. They asked if anything else was going on in Aidan’s home life. I replied with a little chuckle, “like a major home renovation that leaves him having a slumber party with us?” Yes. They wanted to know about our support system because the success of the surgery is about more than just the surgery itself.
- They went the extra mile. There was one question I didn’t get answered. By the end of my very very long day, the first fabulous nurse I saw had already made some calls. She then came to find me in a different part of the hospital to explain how she would follow up with me. Instead of letting us sit in the waiting room forever (that’s almost not hyperbole) they came out to tell us what time we would really be seen.
So there you have it. It was EXHAUSTING and OVERWHELMING and less streamlined than our local hospital, but it was all certainly made easier with a friend.