Friday, 6 July 2018


I have a knack for pissing people off.  It is my super power as it were.  Two days ago we had a young boy come in for a conformal brain MRI.  The only time we get children is when they need brain radiation and it's never good.  They don't survive.  It buys their family time and maybe improves symptoms.

This little guy is seven, one eye looking the wrong way, probably because of where the tumor is.  His parents and big sister were with him.  The only good thing about children is that they don't know they're dying at this stage, but their parents do and it often feels like a funeral procession walking down the hallway.

I had to start his IV for the MRI scan.  His parents had been told by the staff downstairs in radiation that he wouldn't need an IV.  The staff downstairs were wrong.  The mother was upset because she could have put emla cream on to numb the little guy's skin before the needle poke but she was given the wrong information.  The little guy was stressed because he didn't think he would be getting poked.

I checked with the MRI techs and it was going to be about forty minutes before the little guy was going on the table so I found a vein that looked good and his mom put emla on his skin and I told them to come back in thirty minutes for the IV start and the emla should have helped numb the skin by then.

Then  I called downstairs and left a message for the staff who told the family that he wouldn't need an IV.  I told them he was going to need an IV, that they had given the family the wrong information and had caused a lot of stress for a little guy.  I was not rude but I was assertive.  Two of the MRI techs heard me leave the message.

Later, after the IV start, after the little guy vomited due to stress, after the MRI scan, a message was left on the nursing phone by one of the staff downstairs.  She was obviously angry and said she didn't appreciate the message I had left.

So I went into MRI and told the supervisor that if there was any fallout from this incident, that I was to blame.  He didn't care.  Radiation had sent the patient up without any warning, the whole thing was a shit show, he was frustrated with radiation.  I said that I had a knack for pissing people off and laughed but I also felt bad.  I was advocating for me patient, I was giving information and felt I had been misunderstood.

One of the young techs, also a psych major, said that when people have such an angry response it's usually because they know they are at fault in some way and it was a way to deflect blame, to protect themselves.  I'd never thought of that but it makes sense.  I'm pretty sure I do the same thing without thinking.

I then told her about my sister and my mum dying and my sister's anger with me.  She wondered if my sister did in some way feel responsible for my mum's death and for how poorly she treated my mum in the last year of my mum's life.  I don't think my sister was responsible for my mum's death but I do hold her responsible for hurting my mum's feelings.  My mum felt like a burden when she died because of what my sister said to her.  My sister told mum she should be in a nursing home, not an option I supported.

So perhaps my super power is pissing people off because I hold up a mirror.  It's not my intent to piss people of but I do strive for the truth.  I know we all lie to ourselves, me included, but I do try to look at myself honestly which causes me all kinds of stress because as a human being I am a messy individual with conflicting ideas, believes, values and intentions.  It's not easy being human.

10 comments:

  1. I agree with the last sentence wholeheartedly.

    I'm glad you called downstairs and let them know. I can remember the crazy run around I got when my ex was incorrectly diagnosed with liver cancer. Not only was the multiple appointments and 7 different doctors (all with their own opinions) hard to manage, I also had to yell and fight with the insurance company. Illness can be nightmare for all concerned but compound that with being a tiny child....heartbreaking. Keep on pissing people off.

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  2. Being human is SO hard. I figured out that displaced anger some time ago. I do it, we all do it. It's hard as hell to be the target of it.
    You did the right thing in letting the radiation dept. know that they'd screwed up which had caused a lot of problems. That appointment was scary enough as it was. I can't imagine.

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  3. It is really, really hard being human. It doesn't sound like you did anything wrong, by the way.

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  4. Oh, the displaced anger. I am quite familiar with it and grateful to be somewhat aware of it (most of the time) -- on both sides. It sounds like you have been exquisitely aware. I am glad that family had you -- that's the main thing that matters.

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  5. It’s not easy at all. Some days it’s so fucking hard just to get out of bed in the morning. Sure, there are self help books out there but they are written by people who are winging it just like the rest of us. Thank god we get to get into bed at the end of the day and go to sleep.

    Here is a quote from me of my favourite authors, Fannie Flagg.

    “ Poor little old human beings – they’re jerked into this world without having any idea where they came from or what it is they are supposed to do, or how long they have to do it in. Or where they are gonna wind up after that. But bless their hearts, most of them wake up every morning and keep on trying to make some sense out of it. Why, you can’t help but love them, can you? I just wonder why more of them aren’t as crazy as betsy bugs. ”

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  6. It isn't easy being Human. I agree that those who tend to easily Anger usually are hyper-sensitive for a host of other reasons that go deeper than just any mere episode. I think you did the right thing for your Patient and his Family, which isn't always the popular nor easy thing... the right things rarely are!

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  7. Clearly ignoring the anger issue - I LOVE the photo!

    (and I think you did the right thing too)

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  8. Holding up a mirror. Yes. Whenever I get pissed off, I try to figure out what part of myself is being reflected back at me. Sometimes, not always, it helps me calm down.

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  9. I wish more medical practitioners were like you - sticking up for the patient instead of saying nothing. I'd be thrilled to have a nurse who had my back. It's just one of the many things I love about you. Keep speaking up - it might catch on. It's time for change.

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  10. You absolutely did the right thing. Lucky the little boy had you there as an advocate.

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