Please Bother Me: Thoughts from the Medically Challenged
The following post may contain: snarky quips, dark humor, and opinionated statements. I could not figure out how to refrain from this, and honestly, didn't want to.
The last week of my life has been a little bit of Hell on Earth. A normal Wednesday turned into a 15 hour ER visit. Later in the week, I was hospitalized. I've decided to keep my health data to myself, but beyond all the actual lessons I learned about myself, here is my takeaway for others:
Please Bother Me, Because Strangers Definitely Will.
The triage nurse will tell me about her stepson's addiction.
The 4am Uber driver will tell me about what it was like being 1 of 20 children.
Doctors, nurses, and aides will try to tell me about what it means to be resilient, all while forcing me to listen to horribly traumatic details about their life in an effort to say "I did it, you can too."
I know, in their own way, most of the people were trying to help or be relatable. In some of these cases, the words, "I am a therapist" should probably never have left my mouth. In others, most of my colleagues would agree:
It's like it's written on my forehead.
I'm not exactly mad about these circumstances, but it was sometime around 2am when I realized I would be taking the Uber home in my hospital socks, that I thought:
The people I care about, that I need to hear from, don't want to bother me.
There's some fine line out there between:
"Yes, I don't want to update 75 people on my health condition."
"I need to hear from people that actually give a damn about me right now."
When the scales got tipped, and all I could do was pour from a cup that was not only empty, but shattered; I didn't have anyone nearby because I am too stubborn to ask and they are too kind to bother me.
Please, please, bother your loved ones.
Tell them how much you care about them, and how it's okay to be scared, and how every fucking thing they are worried about is completely normal.
Maybe remind them that most doctors have little to no training in bedside manner and while they have humongous brains and hearts, their communication skills are typically not the best.
Maybe bring a sandwich and new fuzzy socks and watch Mrs. Doubtfire and keep your mouth shut.
Maybe bully them into receiving any and all of it. (Thanks, Heather).
So what's the point here? Some therapist is mad that people unloaded their trauma during one of the most medically traumatic things she's ever experienced?
Fuck yeah I am.
But also, truly, I want to challenge the narrative of what it looks like to show up for people. I want to break down the social barriers that Americans have when it comes to how we interact with those that are "medically challenged." I never want you to fear inserting that joyful, life-giving presence you have into someone's difficult circumstance.