Oh, were you sick?

When a dear friend of mine became quite sick at my house last week and decided to go to the ER, I jumped in the car with her.  Not because I love the ER (oh, my heavens, no), but because I thought that I might be able to keep her distracted on the long drive (her hubs was driving) and help her in some way when we got there.  I’ve spent quite a lot of time in the hospital this year, and I kinda know how things work now. 

For example, I’ve learned to be assertive but nice at check-in.  Don’t de-emphasize your symptoms at triage, or you might wait forever, yes, even after that agressive lady with the hangnail.  Know what tests you’re getting, and, if you haven’t had them after an hour or two in the exam room, ask why.  If no nurse comes back to check on you for a couple hours (!), go check on her.  Ask questions.  Ask about risk/benefit for any drugs prescribed.  Ask about the appropriate level of pain relief.  But remember, it’s ultimately your choice, in almost every case, whether to have any given procedure, drug, or pain medication.

I think it’s the loss of control that frustrates me so much at the ER.  Or at least it did until I realized that much of my visit was up to me.  The nurses and doctors see you for only an instant in time; if you present full and relevant history, it can really help quicken your visit and diagnosis. 

(It’s not complaining if it’s a symptom and you’re telling a nurse.)

But I digress.  The part that I really wanted to tell you about was when we were joking around with the nurse (after she took my friend’s vitals and took care of business) and one of us made an offhand comment about how I must just like hospitals since I’m in them so much.  The nurse looked carefully at me and said, “Oh, were you sick?”

Was I sick?

Um, yeah.  “Can’t you tell by the short hair?” I asked, always my tactful tactless self.


“What about the chest?”  Oh, I was so beyond tacky now, there was no going back.  Besides, she’s a medical professional, right?  If she wouldn’t tell me the truth, no one would.


“Oh, sorry.  I had cancer.  I’ve just finished treatment, and it kinda feels like everyone can tell by looking at me.”

“No, hon.  I just thought you had a cute haircut, that’s all,” and then we talked about something else.


22 Responses to Oh, were you sick?

  1. I remember well a time when we thought it would be an eternity before we came to this day!!

    Congratulations, sweetie. You do, indeed, have a “cute haircut”!!!

    xoxo CGF

  2. ohgrammy says:

    Cute haircut indeed!

  3. Hooray! That has to feel good, right?

  4. Dawn says:

    Ok, that’s so very cool!

  5. Christy says:

    What a fantastic response!

  6. Alison says:

    I think that’s great! But I get what you mean.

    You are completely right about the ER and hospitals in general. I learned more than I wanted to know about them this winter when our son was in the hospital. I feel like I could write a survival guide to the ER and the pediatric ward!!

  7. Alice C says:

    Isn’t it strange – sometimes encouragement comes from the most unexpected sources!

  8. Christy says:

    Score one for you! That is great.

  9. Susan K says:

    Wow. That is just great. It really shows us how wrong we can be about our own image, doesn’t it?

    I hope that made you smile as much as it makes me smile.

    “Hon”. 🙂

  10. Robbin says:

    That has to be some kind of milestone or something…

  11. liz says:

    i love this nurse. love.

  12. Kimberly says:

    GREAT story 🙂

  13. Nominimom says:

    That’s awesome. Must have been a great boost!

  14. Karen says:

    Wow – that must have felt really good (when you picked yourself up off the floor…lol).

  15. Meleah says:

    This story really brightened my day. It makes me smile every time I think about it. I even made my husband read it. Thanks for sharing — as always — you are an inspiration. Inspiration with a cute haircut!

  16. bcjenster says:

    Happy dance!!!

  17. Stimey says:

    This is great. Even if your mental identity isn’t quite there yet (?), maybe this knowledge can help. And the haircut IS great!

  18. NoRegrets says:

    And there you go. That’s cool. It’s for you to decide who knows.

  19. Wow. “No, hon.” That’s pretty telling.

  20. JoC says:


  21. Oh MAN! You, my friend, can join the ranks with me when I decide to pen a book someday entitled, “Stupid Things People Have Said To Me,” which will be a book about things people say to those who are grieving, extremely ill, going through any kind of loss. How irritating! I’m glad you got snarky with her!!! 😉

  22. Lisa says:

    You are the best!!!
    Once again you share so much with all of us!

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