Saturday, February 3, 2007

The Challenges of Relating in Relationships

It is often difficult to adequately express myself or what I am feeling to you Outsiders. In my current sub-topic of relating to medical healthcare professionals, lets talk about how to describe symptoms when asked. One of the most difficult questions commonly asked is: on a scale of 1 to 10, how do you rate your pain? Since I practiced the art of never expressing pain growing up my pain tolerance sky rocketed--it is unusually high. So pain can be difficult for me to rate on a scale that is presented as "standardized" [explain how that can be since pain cannot be objectively measured?] That leaves me with trying to quickly think about how to translate or convert my level of pain to one that is appropriate for the level of injury or illness so that appropriate medical care will be done. I learned that translation is necessary when I reported a pain level of a 4 for pain that kept me awake at night crying. But since I reported a 4, I was sent away with instructions to get some OTC painkillers...and to quit whining. Didn't do a thing for the pain or my frustration level with dealing with doctors. I have learned that if I multiply my pain level by 1.5 to 2, then the care I get makes the pain bearable or sometimes even eliminates it. But I have to stop and do the calculations in mind. So if a mental is slow in answering, it is likely because they are trying to figure out how to express it so that the doctor understands and takes enough action to alieviate at least some of it.

Trust and respect. These are critical in any relationships I have with anyone I encounter--especially those who are supposedly charged with helping me get better. Trust and respect are earned things--and they are usually earned by evidence of intelligence, a sense of humor, and the quality of being "safe" in the earnee. A staff person or doctor in a hospital who displays a distinct deficiency in cerebral activity is likely to be a target of acting out behavior or overt or perhaps covert manipulative manuvers--especially if I have become very irritated by them. During one hospitalization the door opened one afternoon and all these young women in white uniforms came marching into the unit and then fanned out into patients' rooms. I learned they were nursing students and had come to experience a psych unit. I found this interesting and obeyed when told to go to my room so the student assigned to me could find me. I did so and found that the student was very respectful and listened to what I said...I tried my best to answer her questions in such a way that she was not frightened and she understood.

A day later, a different group arrived on the unit. That particular group irritated the hell out of us. My student was so condescending and rude to me that I shut down completely and waited it out until she left. Later the other patients and I worked out a plan...because we were told another group would be arriving the next day no matter how we felt about it.

We were already in our rooms when the next group arrived...waiting. Some of us acted catatonic. Some acted out. Some drooled and twitched. Others shouted at furniture in the room. The staff went bonkers...not to mention the students and their faculty. The students couldn't leave fast enough. We weren't treated as specimens again. We were delighted...we also lost all privileges for several days but we didn't care as long as they weren't coming back.


1 comment:

Cat said...

It was nice to hear from another view about the students coming in! As a student, I understood nothing in my Psych rotation, but I did understand that it only took one neuron out of place. I would have laughed myself silly at how ya'll did the third group!! Good Going!