You’re probably reading this because you’re related to me, and/or you’re hoping for some cute baby pictures. This post is not for you. This post is for the (granted, unlikely) reader who is scheduled to provide medical care to me in the near future, and who wants a little preparatory insight into the psychology of the individual. So, dear nurse/doctor/anesthesiologist/insurance clerk, here’s the deal: my pre-, intra-, and post-procedure anxieties tend to express themselves in one of the following ways:
- Nervous laughter. This, along with reading and speaking German at a two-year-old level, make me appear mentally deficient. See also: my haircut.
- Jokes. These are typically pun-based, do not translate well, and are culturally inappropriately self-deprecating. See also: nervous laughter.
- Harsh, unwelcome, and clear-to-the-point-of-strident criticisms of the specifics of your healthcare delivery systems. At today’s appointment alone:
- after having the doctor review verbally the risks associated with c-section, I suggested that the risk of thromboembolism and post-surgery constipation warranted a revisiting of the hospital’s dehydration-inducing policy about not taking fluids after 10:00 pm the night before surgery (the doctor’s response: ‘We hardly ever have patients with an embolism!’)
- I pointed out that if my c-section appointment is at 8:00 but I’m told to get to the hospital at 6:45, and the other c-section patient’s appointment is at 10:00 but she’s also told to get to the hospital at 6:45, then one of us is going to be nervous and thirsty for two unnecessary hours (the doctor’s response: ‘You’re the 8:00 appointment, though, right?’ My response, ‘Let’s go ahead and make sure!’ Sorry, Ms. 10:00, I tried!)
- Immediately following a discussion about why the newborn needs to be wiped and wrapped with a blanket before being handed over to me for some skin-to-skin contact, which kind of defeats the purpose of immediate skin-to-skin contact (doctor’s response: ‘To maintain the sterile field – otherwise the nurse would need to re-sterilize,’ my response, ‘OK, so she’ll need to re-sterilize.’ Doctor’s response, ‘Grrr’), when the nurse used bafflingly bad disinfection technique during a blood draw, I just bit my tongue.
I explain this not to highlight what an insufferable asshole I am during each and every medical appointment, but rather to illustrate the fact that it could have been worse. That poor blood draw nurse could have been treated to a lecture about cross-contamination when touching the disinfected area with her dirty glove, the effects of an alcohol-soaked cotton swab on one’s ability to effectively form a clot at the blood draw site, and the hazards of gesturing wildly with a used needle before capping it, but rather she was treated to a calm silence as I reminded myself that she had two whole days to re-learn sterile technique before she holds my bowels in her hands during Thursday’s episode of Medical Freakout: Pregnancy Edition, Season Two.
Yeah, I might be a little nervous about the whole shebang. Can anyone reassure me with the details of what happened to Caesar’s mother after the original Caesarean Section?