Why is Compassion Getting Harder and Harder to Find?

Mental Fitness, Tough Love!

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My youngest daughter and I have spent the week in the Van (yes, with a capital V, as essential as our Dodge Caravan is to us, it’s the least I can do), at the hospital, and in a Taco John’s. My mom, who lives nearly an hour away got really, really sick. She has had a heart attack before, has had stints put in, and is a brittle diabetic – so Steph and I sped down and took her to the emergency room. She was shaking, was so sick and in such pain that she could barely even walk. Needless to say, she was teary eyed and miserable. I knew we were in for a rotten time when the receptionist was rude, right off the bat. No sympathy, no compassion – just rudeness. It was all I could do to keep from pointing out to her that she resembled Kirstie Alley, at her heaviest, without the prettieness of face. Or voice. Or hair.

After 15 minutes, they’re kind enough to invite my mother back to sit in a tiny little room. It was, literally, hours before we saw any sort of a doctor. We did see the queen of mean, though. An rn (no capital letters, it’s the least I can do) who, while watching with a sneer as my mom was overcome by dry heaves and tears, had the audacity to ask, “Is she always like this?” Since we were at her mercy, I didn’t pull out the B-word. I kindly explained that, no, in fact dry heaves and tears weren’t a habit, which is why we were sitting in an er rather than a nearby Cracker Barrell. She was extremely cold and outright nasty. Fortunately, after watching my mom take her attitude, I took her name.

Always like this? I wonder if a man came in with a broken arm if she’d glare over the top of her glasses and demand, “Does it always hang like that?”

When a hospital employee walks through your door, you expect them to help you. You expect them to care. She did neither, and I’m going to make sure she gets recognized for it.

We also encountered a few other nurses – and while none were as rude as the queen, they were far, far, far from helpful and were nowhere even close to nice.

Fortunately, there was a young man who FINALLY drew her blood and started her IV, and he was extremely nice. He kept calling her “sweetheart” and asking how she was doing. If mom had been well, she’d have flirtted her butt off with him. She’s shameful when she’s full strength.

An even younger guy who wheeled her off for an x-ray was also very nice and respectful. When the doctor, hours later, came through the door – he, too, was great. I couldn’t help noticing that all the females were rude, but the males were super nice.

Mom ended up having a severe kidney infection and, combined with the diabetes, she was sicker than any human being should ever be.

The next day, in her hospital room, her sugar went down to 35. I was kind of worried when it was a female nurse who came zooming into the room, but she couldn’t have been nicer if she had to. She was one of the best RNs I’ve ever seen in action and was warm, friendly and reassuring. She did her profession honor and returned my faith in my own sex. My mom is at home now and on her way to recovering and a lot is due to this particular RN and inspite of a few others.

In everything I go through in life, I try to take something away from it. Something I can not only learn from for my personal life and writing, but something I can “give” to my daughters. With this past week’s festivities, I’ve come up with:

1. When sick, especially if you have a critical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or asthma – don’t wait around. It’s very unlikely that you’ll all of a sudden feel better the next day – go see a doctor. These conditions will make recovery much harder and will make you go down much faster. Avoid a trip to the er at all costs.

2. If you’re on medications, always have them handy to take with you. Be sure your family members know where they are kept.

3. When possible, always accompany a loved one when they’re seeing a doctor. Especially if they are very ill, very young, or older.

4. If you encounter extreme rudeness and indifference – report it. The only way we’ll ever make a difference is if we speak up. For example, if you see a worker (anytime, anywhere) being rude to an elderly person – even if you don’t know the individual – report it to the higher powers.

5. Steph is my rock. Okay, I didn’t learn it this week – I just re-observed it. Every battle I’ve ever been up against, she has always been right by my side fighting it with me. While mom was in the hospital, we went by her house to take care of her animals, check her mail, do her laundry – that sort of thing. Apparently her sink was backed up and she’d been unable to do dishes for about a week. Obviously, she hadn’t really felt like messing with it.

I made a mental note to bail the water out and get started on it – but I went to clean the cat’s litter box first because he looked pretty unhappy. When I got through and came back to the front of the house, my beautiful teenaged trooper was up to her elbows bailing away – filling up a blue bucket she’d found, and making trips out back to dump it. I never even asked or suggested she take that on. I really just thought she was feeding the dog. Anyway, that’s the sort of kid she is and I’d never want to face a battle without her on my side. I’m just lucky enough to know that would never happen.

My husband and other 2 daughters weren’t available for any of the trips (many of which were made in thunderstorms), but he always checked my oil for me and he and Emily kept my gas tank on full. It was something I could have done and would have done, but they took care of so I’d have less to worry with. Em and Brittany called like a gazillion times checking on everything, too. The Husband also took us out to dinner every night too which was more help than I can even say.

It’s just a good lesson to always do your part. You may not be able to do everything to help someone out, but you can always do something.

6. The words of George Washington Carver are not only beautifully said, they are amazingly true. He wrote that one should always be….

Tender with the young,
Compassionate with the aged,
Sympathetic with the striving,
Tolerant of the weak and the strong.
Because someday you will have been all of these.

Make each moment count double,

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