So where did I leave off from last time? Ah yes! I was in a mental cesspool of sadness. My cup runneth over, my storm not yet passed, I had been driven to my knees by the stresses of life. To recap, Paul had been to hospital getting his antibiotic fix via a central line to the heart whilst the care team had their own issues with the company they worked for….that will be a story for another day. I wasn’t dealing well with all that was going on. I was trying to coordinate my husband’s life, empathising with the support staff because their issues were understandably exhausting, giving attention to my children and on top of it all, my mother developed heart issues that needed attention.
Paul was now receiving his antibiotics, changed daily by the community nurses who came to our home each day. Monday evening I received a call to say that Paul’s catheter would be changed in hospital the following day so we needed to be there by mid afternoon. Right when I thought I had planned the logistics of the hospital visit, the hospital changed the appointed time to mid- morning. Just short of pulling my hair out, I needed to plan how I would arrange carers to allow me to get Paul to his appointment with minimal fuss. It is always wishful thinking that things would just go smoothly. after some rearranging of shifts, a few phone calls and a swig of rum to settle my nerves, everything was set.
The morning came and after the spectacle of getting the kids ready for school, making lunches and dropping them off, I had a small window to plan how the day was going to map out. I directed one carer to come with me in the car whilst the other followed in their own car; that way if things ran over time, they could pick up their own children from school on time. I gathered the necessary paperwork, loaded Pauly into the car and headed over to hospital.
While waiting until a bed in the ward had been allocated for Paul, we waited in the front lobby. We watched people coming in and out, signing in, getting their temperatures checked, nurses chatting about their busy schedules. My phone rang and it was the community nurse telling me Paul had been put on her morning run. I cut her off telling her Paul was in hospital having an SPC change as was planned by the Ambulatory Clinic. I explained I had received instructions and times late the previous day and was unable to contact them. She asked if I has taken the antibiotics with me to see if one of the nurses at hospital could give him today’s dose. If I had been thinking straight, I may have thought of that. Unfortunately, Paul’s antibiotic was not at the forefront of my brain. “Let me ask my Manager to see what we can do,” she said.
Moments later, I receive a call from the local Community Health Centre Manager. If I was to describe this lady having never met her before and hearing her voice for the first time, I would say she was a middle-aged, hardened-by-the-stresses-of-life, Pacific Islander woman with the body mass of Dwayne Johnson. She spoke with such bitterness like I had turned her entire life upside down because I didn’t call them regarding this hospital admission. She spat every word, reminding me that I had inconvenienced her to the nth degree. The fact that I had failed to communicate with her about this hospital visit meant that she would need to reshuffle every community nurses schedule and she just didn’t have the resources for that. I would need to find some sort of alternative or Paul would just have to go without his antibiotic that day. I was gobsmacked. What happened to duty of care? The only response I could manage was “Wow.”
“Don’t ‘Wow’ me,” she says followed by another litany of words that I don’t even remember because her tone was rude and unjustified. When I finally got a grip and was able to form a reasonable response that didn’t involve calling her names and inserting expletives, I explained to this woman that I was sure she ‘could appreciate how stressful it was to plan a day to bring my husband to hospital, manage the staff and ensure we had all the necessary resources we require when given details about the admission so late the night before.’ For a moment she softened her voice but remained stern. She would ‘see what she could do’ and get back to me. Turns out, she could rearrange for Paul to be put on an afternoon run and someone would be able to come to him after 4pm.
I have rehearsed several different responses I could have said. Here is one I prepared earlier….
“My apologies for creating more work for you. I am deeply sorry that the hospital didn’t inform me of the admission until late the night before when your CLINIC WAS CLOSED so there was no way to contact you the night before. After taking my children to school the next day, my time was taken up trying to arrange the logistics with support staff to ensure that my quadriplegic, brain- injured husband could get this emergency procedure done efficiently that would enable them to get to their commitments in a timely manner. Again, my deepest regrets that your schedule wasn’t at the forefront of my mind whilst making arrangements for my husband to have a safe trip home and support staff to care for him when he arrives home because when you were arriving to work this morning, I was having a conversation with myself about how I was going to manage picking my kids up from school, helping them with their homework whilst assisting the other carer with Paul’s care because we were short staffed and cook dinner. Thank you for bringing my short comings to my attention because clearly, you are the only person on this planet with better shit to do.”
Passive aggressive rant over.