I had a long and boring day at The Cancer Clinic. Normally the place is run like a well-oiled wrestler…um, I mean, machine but today was an exception to the rule. I had to wait 45 minutes to see my doctor and when he finally showed up we spoke for about 3 minutes. I then had to go up to the chemo ward to get my porta-cath flushed. This has to happen every 4-6 weeks to avoid blood clots. For that procedure, which takes all of 5 minutes, if that, I had to wait 1 hour and 10 minutes in the waiting room. That sucked. I hate waiting and was pretty frustrated at the end of the day. And my parking bill was HUGE!
Today was an exception to the rule as for the most part I almost look forward to going to The Cancer Clinic as the staff is always super nice. They really go out of their way to make your time there pleasant.
I go to radiation everyday and if there is a new technician helping out that day they ALWAYS introduce themselves to me. I am truly terrible with remembering names but I really like this practise. There are a couple techs that I see almost every time and we are on very friendly terms now. You have to remember that I only get to talk to them while they are setting me up for my radiation and that takes no time at all. Despite our brief meetings we talk about good restaurants and exchange book titles and authors we have enjoyed. I learn what everybody gets up to on the weekends and how the shopping trip went on their day off.
While I was waiting in the chemo ward waiting room I got to see how the nurses there interacted with their patients. When I was going though chemo I have to admit I was pretty high on Ativan to deal with my anxiety. I don’t remember much about my chemo sessions. Today I was amazed to see that each nurse came out and personally got their patients from the waiting room. They greeted them warmly and introduced themselves. Often I heard them say, “I remember you from several weeks ago. How are you doing?” They were so unbelievably kind every single time. Then to further emphasise how cool these nurses were this one nurse who I had a couple times during my treatment saw me and waved. She called out, “Hi S****! Look at your hair! How are you doing?” Right after that another nurse who also treated me a couple times saw me and came over and said the same thing, teasing me that my hair was almost longer than hers. She remembered my name too. My last treatment was at the beginning of September! I have to admit I don’t remember their names. It was very touching that they not only recognised me but also recalled my name after all this time. I can assure you I was not particularly chatty or had any significant interactions with them that would make me more memorable. They are just cool that way. When you think they have four patients in their treatment rooms rotating every couple of hours they must see a lot of people in their day. Really amazing.
The other thing that I think is really excellent about the chemo ward is that they have an area in the waiting room where you can get iced water or make yourself coffee or tea. They also have this cute young guy in a little blue smock that has a trolley and he goes from chemo room to chemo room offering beverages and cookies. He also visits the waiting room and spreads the hospitality. It is like our very own cancer flight attendant. I think this is a nice extra touch.
While I was waiting there was a lady who came in for her chemo who was obviously very ill. The waiting room contains regular chairs as well as couches and recliners. This lady sat on a couch and asked the receptionist for a pillow. The woman unhooked herself from her phone set-up and got this tired woman a pillow and a blanket so she could lie down on the couch while she waited for her chemo.
So what I am trying to say is that these nurses, technicians and support staff really go out of their way to make a scary and unpleasant time the best that it can be. They make the extra effort to interact and form a relationship with their patients. They do this on top of giving great medical care. The job isn’t easy by any stretch with late shifts and difficult, both emotional and physical, working conditions.
If you are in the unfortunate position to be receiving medical care and you have a good experience please make sure you thank those people who treated you right. If you are healthy and well go visit Spoonleg, our resident Blogville nurse and give her a shout out for her hard work. That gal is working her ass off at the hospital as well as grad school. Hug your health care provider today!