Bonus Round Patient Pages
Encouraging better caregiver/patient communication

Mud will be flung.
Salads will fly.
Shoes will be hurled.

And they may all be aimed at me.

Steve has asked me to begin a journal of sorts, dealing with my experiences in medical caregiving.

Not because I'm sick.

But because I'm SICK.

I was thinking about what the theme should be here. I have certainly not dealt with illness that compares to any of the people on these pages, Steve or Katie, for example.

And yet, I've had my share of medical encounters. And I realize that they do have a common theme.

Communication. As in, does anybody out there in DoctorLand really hear what you're saying to them? Too often, it seems they don't.

The adventure begins.

Let's start small.


Children Will Listen
Doctors Usually Won't

In the Beginning was My Mom
        The Nurse
And My Dad
         The Hypochondriac
Say it with me

         Was calm, cool and unflappable
         Did not just get sick
         He got everything

If it was mentioned on the news
    He had the symptoms
If someone in a movie or on a TV show had it
    He had it, too
But he always had it
   Than they did
    Whoever they were
     Whatever they had

Between him and two small children, my mom had her hands full. But she was an excellent nurse. She handled his and our various illnesses and injuries like a professional.

She gave us our shots
 Administered enemas
  Wiped our fevered brows
   And cleaned up our vomit with casual efficiency

Never once letting on that we were actually sick enough or injured so badly that we should be worried about it.

If we had something contagious, she turned the bedroom into an isolation ward
 And that was that
  No arguments
   No visitors
She came in regularly
 With meals
  And medicine
   On a tray
Sometimes she wore
 Her nurse's cap
  And a sterile mask
It was just like a home hospital room

Except the food was much better

So my first real experience with a Doctor was due to an injury that happened when I was 5 and Gilbert Martinez pushed me on the playground. I fell, as luck would have it, directly on a sharp bottlecap that neatly carved out my whole left knee like a cookie cutter, right down to the bone.

I was taken to the nurse's office and while I waited for her, bleeding profusely, the janitor came in to keep me company.

"Yup, they're gonna have to cut that leg off," he said, forgetting or not caring that kids don't know when grownups are joking about stuff like that.

How would I ever be a ballerina with only one leg?

Now I was bleeding and screaming profusely.

My teacher heard me screaming, walked in, saw the blood, turned white and left.

The school nurse heard me screaming, came in, saw the blood, and poured a bottle of hydrogen peroxide into the wound. Followed by iodine.


My mom arrived, heard me screaming, came in, and very calmly said "Oh, that doesn't look so bad."

"The janitor says they're going to cut it off!" I screamed.

The injury wasn't serious, she assured me -- did I mention that the bone was exposed?   But that was my mom
    The Nurse

But, she admitted, it did need to be sewn up. So off we went to the doctor.

On the way, I told her he could put a bandage on it when we got there, but I absolutely refused to let him stitch my knee. It had to be perfect and unscarred if I were to be a ballerina. Forget that the knee was just plain gone.

"Okay," she said, "we'll have him suture it instead." Well, all right then. As long as he didn't stitch it.

Yep,  the doctor agreed, it would definitely have to be sewn -- er -- sutured up. Which was very different from stitching, he explained.

Then he brought out a needle and some purple thread.

Hold it! What's going on here? This looked like imminent stitching to me.

Oh no, he assured me. Suturing is not anything like stitching.

Whatever it was, I told him he had to use pink thread, so there wouldn't be a scar.

I was brilliant even at 5 years old.

He told me he didn't have any pink thread. All his thread was purple. I told him I'd wait while he went out and bought some.

The doctor and my mom convinced me to let him use the purple thread. It wouldn't leave a scar, they both promised me.

As it happened, the doctor totally botched the job, and the wound got infected so badly that I practically did lose the leg. Aside from that, guess what I ended up with?

A great big purple scar.

The stage of the future is set.

There is no ballerina upon it.

NEXT >>>>


You can write Marie at

Steve | Katie | Dickie | Bev | Shawn |