Flashback Friday: Uniformity

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[Fear not. This is an old post. I do not have Mystery Dizziness. All I have is a pair of tired feet from a day at the 2014 Irish Fair of Minnesota. Hopefully, there will soon be a post about Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Until then, I give you a trip down hypochondria lane.]

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sometimes when you’ve been dizzy for a week and when you get so dizzy you think you might pass out and when you mention it to a wise friend who had a similar experience and discovered when she went to the hospital that she needed potassium STAT, well, sometimes you end up in the E.R. at midnight.

If you can help it, avoid this.

I miss the days of nurses in starched white uniforms with hats balanced on their heads. I only just barely remember it from my childhood, but there’s something about the current nurse style of smocks with puppy dogs on them and big white athletic shoes that always makes me think perhaps they should be grooming dogs instead of taking my blood pressure. I don’t trust their authority or their expertise. It’s judgmental of me. I’ve taught many fine nursing students who no doubt have a variety of scrubs covered in woodland creatures and cartoon characters, and I’d trust them to take care of me. But still, there was something comforting about those days when people dressed in the uniform of their profession. The reason UPS men look kind of hot now is because uniform wearing is really down to them and the “crew” at McDonald’s.

Also, on the list of things you shouldn’t have to see in a hospital ER: a doctor who appears to be a 12 year old paper boy and who wears, as God as my witness, a shark tooth surrounded by shell beads on a leather cord. I  felt as if I’d fallen out of the Midwestern ER waiting room full of Hoosiers with reflux and injuries from farm implements and into an examining room in the O.C. If this hospital wasn’t situated at one of the furthest points inland you can be from either coast, I would assume he was going to go surfing as soon as his shift ended.

I’m not ready to be a woman who talks about how young the doctors and cops look. I don’t want to have a prejudice against youth. And yet. And yet. I want a doctor, male or female, with understated jewelry who isn’t wearing cabana wear.

Things you should know about your ER visit:

1) Do not tell the doctor what you think your problem might be. Doctors do not like this. Doctors will order the test you think you need but will tell you they are certain you don’t need it and when the results come back negative, they gloat. In this respect, I think doctors also long for a simpler time before their patients had access to WebMD.

2) When the technician comes in to administer an EKG and he is reading the manual, it won’t be done right. He will be pleasant (and mildly cute, so you won’t mind exposing your chest to him so much), but eventually, a woman in a puppy dog smock is going to come in with the same piece of equipment and do the whole thing over again, only more quickly and with more authority. In all likelihood, your results will be normal.

3) Do not assume that you will leave with any sort of sense of what is wrong with you. If you are not having a heart attack or stroke, you will not be admitted. If you are not a baby with pink eye, you will not be given drugs.

4) Do be prepared for looks from the doctor and nurses that indicate you DO NOT BELONG in the ER and that you are WASTING THEIR TIME.

I have since seen my “regular hours” doctor and he doesn’t know what’s wrong with me either. He said he prefer to think it’s an inner ear thing and that my body is overreacting to the dizziness. He has a look in his eye that indicates what he really thinks is that I’m having anxiety attacks.  Any maybe I am. Because, honestly, I’m pretty anxious about becoming 40 in five months and having health care professionals treat me as if I am an over-reacting, hypochondriac middle-aged woman. It’s a downward slide from here.

Youth is wasted on the young. Middle-aged people are wise enough to know that shark teeth make for bad jewelry.

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