Friday, May 13, 2011

The Truth Will Out

Four-and-a-half weeks ago,
when a mild headache suddenly exploded into head-clawing pain,
I called 911,
and earned an ambulance trip to the hospital.

It was the third time in my life,
all in less than a week,
that I’d experienced that kind of pain.

Calling 911 on myself,
and the ambulance ride --
those were brand new.

Both the male and female paramedics seemed competent,
and, as far as I could tell, they did all the “right things”.

But of all the medical professionals I’ve encountered in past weeks,
they weren’t exactly the kindest.
They were somewhat brusque,
dismissive of my pain and fear,
and surprisingly oblivious to the comfort it would have been to have a loved one near.

As we rocketed over bumps and potholes,
I lay writhing on that narrow bed
gripping the bedside as tightly as possible with my IV hand.
The first medications they administered did nothing to relieve the pain.
My eyes covered due to extreme light sensitivity,
I could see nothing but darkness.

When we’d started our trip,
I’d called out,
“Is anyone back here with me?”
The male medic told me he was,
but even with the assurance of his presence,
I felt alone and terrified.

A few moments later,
after carefully considering it,
I asked the medic if he would hold my hand.
He responded with some surprise,
“You want me to hold your hand?”

To his credit,
he took two of my fingers –
the only ones not occupied with IV and monitor and clutching the bed --
and grasped them in his glove-tipped ones.
Only for a second, though,
for he soon excused himself.
“I’m just trying to get some paperwork done.”

So I released my reluctant comforter to do his paperwork.

In due time,
he finished his paperwork,
his driving-partner delivered us safely to the hospital,
and they handed me over to the care of Emergency Room staff.

Days later,
when I was safe at home, recovering,
the memory of the hand-holding incident floated up to me.

I’d been in so much pain.
so distraught,
so desperate for comfort!

The memory of the paramedics' dismissive tone makes me ask myself:
how many times have I,
as I teacher,
dismissed a child's emotional needs
because I had to "get paperwork done"?

Now that I’ve returned to the classroom,
that question is with me every day.

At the same time,
the memory of that night brings laughter,
for it hints at something I thought was long-hidden:

Regardless of my claims that I’m an independent, single woman,
despite the fervency of my assurances
that I’m delightedly content with my single state --
I’ll go to extreme measures to have a man hold my hand. :)

-- Reenie

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