Thursday, 25 April 2013

Complaint about Childhood Cancer

Because six year old E has leukaemia, I couldn't take a shower this morning.

OMG! Is E one of your kids? Were you so busy with him that you couldn't wash?  Were you in the hospital where there was no shower?

No. E is my husband's first cousin's younger son.  He lives in another country.  We visited this weekend.

Oh - I get it.  While you were there, you contracted some visiting disease that prohibits showering.

Huh? What visiting disease would possibly prohibit showering?

I know, I know. Did you say they were American? You must be saving money to send to the family so you have forsaken hot water. And shampoo.

Yes, they are American. No, they have insurance. (And for your information, you can buy shampoo at the dollar store. Or so I hear.)

So the only possible explanation then is that you are refusing to shower to draw attention to the plight of childhood leukaemia. Hunger strikes are so 2012.

Nope, but good guess.  I'll tell you the truth.

We went to visit E this weekend. He smashed my knees several times with a baseball bat, played kickball in the yard and refused to try sushi.  Typical six year old boy.

He also has bald spots, a bag of chemo drugs and is prohibited from entering a shopping mall. Typical cancer patient.

I anticipated that it would be a difficult weekend. I knew we would have some good times, I knew we would share some emotional moments. We have been to hell and back Disney with these people. Our families are very close.

Still, I stupidly didn't anticipate that my three kids, aged 14, 12 and 8 would be so shaken up.

One has not stopped crying.

One has not liked any food I have served, including offensive meals such as salmon and rice, chicken breasts and in a particularly inspired gourmet moment, spaghetti.

The third has stayed home from school with a case of the vapours sick. For two days.

My kids are upset. They need attention. They want their Mommy, which as it turns out, is me.

I therefore have to give them a little extra attention this week.  Including a little extra attention in the morning. Which means that at 7am I was sitting and chatting instead of rinsing and repeating if desired.

E taught me a very valuable lesson.

Diseases like this, even if the prognosis is optimistic, are ravaging in so many different ways.

We worry about the ill child. We worry about the parents. We worry about the long road ahead.

And we watch our children worry.

E, I wish you the speediest of recoveries.  And to your parents, I wish strength and courage.

To my own kids, my heart breaks for you as you watch someone you love suffer.

And for myself, well, I'm setting the alarm a bit earlier tomorrow morning.

I really have to take that shower.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Meanwhile, At the Honda Dealership

Bring my car in for side air bag recall, trunk latch not working and roof rack caps which keep  hitting the roof on my underground parking at work mysteriously popping off.

Lady in front of me looks at Service Guy: "The clock in my VCR isn't working".

Things Going Through My Head:
1. Fabulous. More people with Alzheimer's.
2. How sad is that. Lady obviously lives alone, has no one to turn to, and has to bring her appliances to car dealership to be fixed.
3. If Lady unplugged her VCR to bring it here, then of course when they plug it back in, the 12:00 will be flashing. I will have to wait all day.
4. I didn't know VCRs were still legal.

Service Guy very patiently responds with "OK, Show me."

Lady walks outside.

Service Guy follows.

I follow too. (What? Suspense was killing me).

Lady opens the door to her car. It's a CR-V.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Complaint About Physician Complaints

R was born with orthopaedic problems that surface on and off over the years.

Things escalating.

Goes to see physician who looks at X-ray and declares:
1. You are not a good candidate for corrective surgery
2. You have the body of an 83 year old woman (R is 50+ years younger)
3. Your life will be very hard.

R and her family are very hurt. They are angry. They believe physician should lose her right to practice medicine.
So far, we can all agree that:
1. Physician has a big mouth
2. R and family deserve an apology

R goes to see 3 or 4 more specialists who all say original physician was wrong. R is a great candidate for corrective surgery.  There is no reason for her life to be hard. And they mention nothing about 83 year old women.

Possible explanations for what happened:
1. Physician was looking at the wrong X-ray
2. Physician looks for certain criteria for the corrective surgery that she did not see in R
3. Physician has a legit clinical opinion that differs from the other specialists
4. Physician is stupid
5. Physician made a mistake

Any of these explanations are plausible.  In any of the above cases, I think R and family deserve a kind, handwritten apology. 

Often, families who have received incorrect medical advice are angry. They want people to lose their jobs, lose their licenses and be escorted out in hand-cuffs carrying a cardboard box of belongings. 

However, I urge you all to recognize that there are a multitude of reasons why inaccurate information is given at a medical appointment.  If something happens that makes you unhappy or uncomfortable, it warrants additional investigation.

In this case, I would love to see an investigation determine:
1. If the physician has made this kind of mistake before
2. If the X-ray is mislabeled or there was another quality problem that needs correcting
3. If physician has a track record of poor communication skills 

Reporting the physician could have the following possible positive outcomes:
1. Physician should be told that her clinical decision turned out to differ greatly from all other specialists consulted, and that she needs to brush up on her research
2. Physician should be asked to apologize, in writing, to R and her family
3. Following complaint receipt, physician may think twice about telling otherwise healthy young women their lives will be hard
4. Family will accept apology and stop fantasizing about legal trial with Marisa Tomei playing star witness

I am so sorry that in addition to suffering through orthopaedic issues and associated surgeries, R and clients like her have to put up with stupid and insensitive remarks from medical professionals.

I am also sorry that medical professionals are not easily forgiven for making stupid and insensitive remarks.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

And If We Wouldn't've Promised Them 100 Virgins They Would've Thought Twice Too

L's husband insisting that she accompany him on overnight trip to fancy gala event.

L is all for black tie and silver shoes but has newborn baby.

Husband points out that with every newborn baby comes a battery operated breast pump.

Your mother can watch the baby, he argues reasonably.  We will be gone less than 24 hours.

(nothing worse than a reasonable husband when you want to pitch a fit)

L throws her sequined top and flowy pants into a tote bag. Realizes she has no choice but to also pack breast pump, case, tubes and emergency battery pack.

En route to the airport.

No longer worried about how newborn baby will survive without her. Now worrying exclusively about whether breast paraphenalia will get through airport security.

Sweating profusely.

Airport security taking a long time with her tote bag.  X-raying it back, forth.

Guard beckons L over.

See? L hisses at her husband.  I knew this was going to be a disaster. How am I going to survive without the breast pump? I never should've agreed to come with you.

L walks up to Guard and before he can open his mouth she says:

I know. I'm sorry. I told my husband the baby was too young to be left alone at home, defenseless with my mother. But he insisted that I come with him on this overnight trip to a fancy gala event.  So, you understand why I had to bring the breast pump? And yeah, it probably looks very scary under your x-ray, but the truth is, it's mostly plastic. I just really had no choice, because if I don't pump I get well you know uh engorged and then how much fun will I be at the gala?

Uh, Ma'am?


L looks over and realizes Guard is holding her can of hair mousse in his hand.

I'm sorry Ma'am, but this is over 100ml. 

Possible Complaint Tie-Ins

  1. Had L's husband not insisted she give him a fun night out of town this whole thing never would have happened
  2. Had L's baby had the decency to be born a few months earlier, she would have been on solid food by the time the gala came around
  3. The Guard could have at least faked concern regarding breast pump just to make L look good
  4. If Osama Bin Laden needed hair mousse when he went carry on maybe he would have thought twice about this whole project