Accessing Healthcare & Consent

Today I was painfully reminded that having access to a doctor does not necessarily mean having access to decent healthcare.

It’s been a bad day at the hospital and I am exhausted. I had to make sure the house is safe. People really don’t know, and probably don’t care, what impact they have on others.

_______________________________

Coming into the waiting room to the sound of annoying radio commercials wasn’t ideal, but I guess there may be people who appreciate it. So I put on my hearing protection headphones and was okay-ish for the time being. Soon after, I was called in to get my cast removed and then sent on to the doctor to have a look at my foot. As my cast was removed and my foot was rather instable, I was offered a wheelchair for the transfer. I was given the choice and clear arguments why this would be useful. I appreciated the thoughtfulness and agreed.

In the waiting room for the doctor I was parked facing the wall and sat there for an hour while my anxiety levels rose. Despite this not being ideal, I am convinced that at this point things still could have gone quite okay. It all depended on how things would pan out once I was called in to the doctor. And that is where things started to go downwards pretty quickly.

The doctor did not seem to be very interested in my case and seemed unwilling to explain his diagnosis, nor was he forthcoming in elaborating on how he arrived at the proposed treatment. I was completely taken aback by his assessment and treatment proposal as it seemed contrary to what I had been previously told. I still was trying to understand how he arrived at his point of view, when I was already shoved out the door into another room by his assistant who then proceeded to use me as a demonstration case for a new colleague.

As the assistant grabs the material needed for the contested treatment I am completely flabbergasted and ask her in complete disbelief, if this really is what she was planning to put on my foot. She resolutely answers ‘Yes’, almost making it sound like she was trying to reprimand me. As she went on to ignore me and explain to her colleague how to put the thing onto a patient’s foot, I am going into complete melt-down mode, becoming visibly distressed and emotional. As the new colleague questions the instructing assistant on my distressed state, the assistant brushes it off the table saying ‘the foot is still painful’. As I am visibly and audibly distressed but no longer verbally answering questions, I am asked to pull the thing onto my foot myself. Which I reluctantly do, as I wasn’t really given any other choice.

Eventually, I am given an appointment card, and I manage to ask how to proceed with painkillers, to which I neither get a useful answer, nor a prescription, even though I am vaguely told that painkillers might be a good idea. Emotionally I am a complete mess as the assistant wheels me out to the hospital exit where I am left to call my friend to pick me up. As my friend arrives 20 minutes later, it takes her only one look to notice that something must have gone horribly wrong.

Hours later I am still struggling to calm down and adjust. My body is tense and I am restless, unable to sleep. In my head I am continuously replaying this morning’s events, only now realizing how violating this experience was. At each point it must have been very clear that I was neither consenting nor comfortable with the chosen form of treatment. Nonetheless, I was ignored and done away with quickly. Nobody really wanted me there. Nobody actually wanted to help. I was just another person standing in between them and their lunch. And that was rather inconvenient for them.

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