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Reflection on impersonal systems

POSTED: July 17, 2013 4:00 a.m.

This is an update for my regular readers. It is also a "venting."

Let me say from the beginning that I do not mean to label an entire health system (or any other) as impersonal.

My thesis is that once one is ushered into a system, the system itself with all its schedules, duties of specific personnel, manner of operations, etc., swings into operation and the patient as a person is an object being carried along with little, if any, control.

I don't believe that happens if one enters the system on a pre-planned basis with someone (doctor, in health care system) in charge as advocate. But it can happen when one comes into the system, involuntary without a knowledgeable advocate. I know because it happened to me.

Following my accident, I was taken to an emergency room, where the decision was made that I should be sent to a specific unit in a different city. From there I was a name, an object that needed immediate attention from someone who was particularly knowledgeable and skilled. I probably got it - but I didn't get much explanation of what was being done and what else needed to be done.

After the necessary surgery, I did make a choice: The next facility where I could go for care and rehabilitation treatment.

After that choice was made, I again became part of each agency's system: schedules, different people with specific duties to perform with me or for me, but seldom knowing what I will be or should be doing next. Somebody somewhere was making appointments and transport arrangements.

My second surgery resulted in a reworked patella (kneecap) and a heavy brace from ankle to upper thigh, with metal rods and knee hinges, not bendable or removable except for an occasional shower. That brace will have been checked and updated before this column is printed.

Having been mostly in control of my own schedule for decades, I was frustrated beyond words.

As I began to know some of my caretakers as individuals and as they began to think of me as a person, not just a body to care for, I finally feel that I have some influence over what is happening to me. I still realize that I am only one of a number of priorities and that my needs and desires may not be met on my schedule but on the time tables and priorities of those providing the services.

Therapists have become my best friends. They insistently encourage and work with me to keep progressing and so I do, albeit slowly. That's partly because of those 89 years.

If loving expressions of concern from friends and family could make me whole again, it would have happened. I continue to be overwhelmed and I truly cannot begin to express my appreciation to each of you. I am not only grateful, but also humbled.

Hopefully, I can also become more patient as a patient.

Helen Taylor's column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.

 

 

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