Don't Yell COVID in a Hospital!!
Last updated: February 2022
Sitting on the toilet in the woman's bathroom at the hospital's radiation department, I watched in horror as my last Klonopin crumbled through my fingers after reaching into my pocket to retrieve it.
The neon orange powder dusted my hospital gown before I could react, falling onto the floor of the women's bathroom. I contemplated reaching down with my finger and licking up the last hope of escapism I had left for my MRI as it melted into whatever liquid was on those hospital tiles.
Instead, I sat there doing my breathing exercises, trying not to get nauseous from the stench left behind by the person who used the bathroom before me. Rock bottom feels light-years above me now that cancer came into my life.
Feeling vulnerable with MBC
When I came out of the bathroom, my nurse waited to pull me into the preparation room. I asked her if she had heard the commotion earlier. She nodded and said she was on the one on the other side of the conversation as she grabbed my arm to start the line.
My body clenched and began to shake as if it were cold, but it wasn't cold. I couldn't look at my nurse; her cold frail hands made me want to recoil at her touch. Before I knew it, it was the last thing I wanted to do in front of a random nurse, but the tears started welling up in my eyes, and I began to cry.
All this was because of some stupid joke that some stupid nurse made while patients were within earshot. Noticing I was upset, she asked me if I needed a minute, which I did. However, I didn't want this procedure to take any more time than it had to.
Words have power
In the modern world, most members of our society have agreed that certain phrases or words in specific scenarios are off-limit: Fire in a theater, or talking about bombs in an airport, for example.
Yes, we live in a country with free speech; however, uttering these words is not only a stupid thing to do but may also unintentionally get someone hurt or even cause social unrest. Not to mention they can get you in a lot of trouble.
I hear people wanting to fight this law of decency all the time. "Well, if he can say that, then why can't I say it?" "Oh, here comes the PC police again trying to kill my fun." It's not that we are trying to kill your fun; we are trying to help you out. Throw you a bone, and tell you what you are doing makes you look stupid and others uncomfortable.
Feeling afraid with MBC
Alright, so what happened to me? I had just gotten dressed for an MRI. The gown was too big, the pants were too small, and it was way too early for me. Minutes after making my way to the hallway where the nurse told me to wait to be taken to be prepped, I heard a man start coughing around the corner.
Then he said, "I'm not feeling so well," to a female coworker, who I later found out was my nurse. "Oh, well, I guess you should probably go home," she said empathetically back.
At this point, I am thinking of the impact of one person with COVID-19 at the hospital and how he was talking to a nurse. He probably interacted with all the nurses, and if he had been there all day, he could infect everyone. I started to panic.
Then he moaned to my nurse, "I had a 102-degree fever this morning." I wanted to run, but my clothes were in the locker.
Being immunocompromised is not a laughing matter
I asked the first nurse who ran by if that man said was true. Looking at me like I was from Mars as she almost walked right past me, then slammed on her breaks so hard I bet small plumes of smoke rose from her yellow Chuck Taylors. She was back at the nurse's station in a flash with the two voices I had heard earlier.
I don't remember what she said, but what he said was, "ah, na," with a stupid giggle, "we were just f**king around." The words cut like ice through my gut and barely made me feel better. I had to run to the bathroom to calm down.
The moral of my story is: Don't cry sick in a hospital unless you are, especially in a cancer hospital. Actually, could you not do it anywhere?
Editor's Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on September 6, 2023, Vicki Thompson passed away. Vicki's advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.
Do you have a safe space where others understand what you are going through?