This is part 2 of the worlds longest thought process / story. Part 1 is HERE, you’ll need to read that first for context. Please note that while there are thoughts from other alters/aspects/whatever you want to call them throughout, these opinions were added by them after they read the initial story and added over a few days. It may make the actual story hard to read, but think of it like a forum. We lack the ability to have this kind of dialogue as a ‘conversation’ but thought it might be an insight to how our mind works for anyone interested.
I can’t wear masks. It’s not because I’m being defiant, it’s a PTSD related issue and it’s supremely inconvenient given the whole global pandemic thing. If I put one on, I will breakdown and cry like a fool within seconds. This makes things very awkward for all involved and while I do have an exemption letter, I prefer to just avoid going to mandatory mask areas altogether.
When the fear of being judged and potential conflict out weighs the fear of getting sick or even the fear of the cancer maybe that’s worth exploring further.
Unfortunately, while my GP was understanding of this fact and didn’t even mention it (the mean secretary didn’t comment either!) The hospital she sent me to wasn’t so tolerant. I completely understand why, I mean they’re frontline staff dealing with a crisis situation and they don’t need some unmasked dickhead fucking up their system.
It’s definitely our issue to work on, but we need to hold some compassion for ourselves too. We aren’t the only ones in this situation and it feels pretty awful when we can’t get fairly standard medical treatment because of a phobia.
The security team let me through into the ED itself mask free when I showed them the exemption letter and as I stood in the line to give my details I tried to ignore the death stares from a waiting room full of masked patients wondering what made me so special.
Okay, let’s go with perceived death stares. People have masks on, you can’t judge facial cues properly and you certainly can’t mind read. Would you judge other people without a mask or would you assume they had a valid reason? Exactly. Give people a chance to offer you the same courtesy.
If I thought it was awkward going there before, now it was really awkward. I was trembling with anxiety and about one mask comment away from a total breakdown. I really had to fight every impulse in my body telling me to run away.
And yet you didn’t runaway! That’s great progress!
It was 10am ish. They took my letter from the GP, saw on the system that I was pre organised to be taken in and given a CT scan. The concern here from the GP and the surgeon was that I had either a recurrence of the cancer, a twist in something, a collection of fluid that might need draining or infection that might require IV drugs. The hope was it was just scar tissue adhesions from surgery and nothing sinister to worry about.
I was sent off into the masked waiting room filled with coughing and spluttering people and hid up the back trying to keep my immunocompromised ass away from everyone while being acutely aware that if I got sick it would be my own Damn fault for making a mountain out of a molehill and agreeing to go there.
“Agreeing to go there” meaning someone else suggested it, someone with a medical degree who’s judgement you generally trust. Why would this be different?
Maybe she’s just scared of missing something and getting sued?
I had no doubt in my mind that they would be sending me home that day and texted my friend Agatha an update still hoping to be able to make it to her place for a visit that afternoon.
I love that you’ve called her Agatha! 😂 She’d hate that name 🤣🤣🤣
I only had to wait around half an hour, that’s pretty impressive by ED standards, especially on a Saturday morning. I guess they’d pushed me through due to the doctor’s phone calls.
Doctors have that sway because they studied half their lives. They know what they’re talking about and they triage due to assessed risk. Medical history + current symptoms = risk factor. It’s basic maths not queue jumping.
Nah, Covid = less team sport injuries!
I got directed to a bed by a nurse with long blue hair in a high ponytail. She introduced herself and chirpily asked me if I had my own mask or did I need her to get me one? I explained the PTSD thing and handed her my exemption letter, she apologised and said she have to go and speak to her supervisor about how to proceed as masks were absolutely mandatory.
That’s when I lost it. All the fear of judgment and shame of being a stupid fool welled up inside me and I just started sobbing. The head nurse appeared and explained kindly that my options were basically to either mask up or be relocated into the isolation area with the suspected potential Covid cases where all the doctors and nurses were protected by full PPE.
I presume due to just coming off of chemo, they wouldn’t have recommended that either. It’s not like we had respiratory symptoms so there was just more chance of catching something.
So that gave way to option C. Go home again. Now obviously option C was going to be my pick, the blue haired nurse returned and apologised for making me cry and the crappy circumstances. I assured her it was my own stupid issues and nothing to do with her, but I appreciated the sentiment. I told them my doctors were probably being over cautious anyway and the pain wasn’t bad enough to be causing all this unnecessary fuss so it would be better if I just left.
Did you really want to leave or did you want to be convinced to stay? This is an example of having an unmet need and choosing not to speak up about it and instead making excuses as to why it was really okay that the need wasn’t being met.
She said that since I was already in a cubicle and the bed would need to be cleaned etc, they could give me a quick blood test and check there was no obvious thing happening there but it was totally up to me (I was still crying like a baby half way off the bed and mentally out the door already.) She said she’d give me five minutes to mull it over and then come back but if I was missing upon her return, she’d assume I’d legged it and she’d understand.
“If you aren’t here when I get back, I understand”
Translation: Please leave. My shift’s nearly over and I don’t need to deal with a cry baby right now.
That was a really hard five minutes. My head was swimming at that point and I was frozen half on/half off the bed. If I left would my GP be mad at me? She’d gone to all that effort to ring doctors etc. I couldn’t have the CT scan anyway though so what was the point in being here. The nurse was being so kind and I was a blithering idiot who couldn’t even speak without sobbing. Fucking PTSD. How hard is it to just wear a goddamn mask? So simple and yet another thing I was a failure at.
It’s hard. We have a reason for it being hard and that doesn’t mean we ‘failed’. Yes, it’s a shame that there wasn’t another option because the GP and the specialist both wanted the scan for a reason and now we have to wait.
Failure isn’t really an appropriate word, it sounds like we’re calling people suffering from PTSD failures. Being angry and hurt that you are feeling those symptoms is understandable and justified but just because you want to self deprecate doesn’t mean you can generalise if like that.
Why are you trying to be PC? Nobody took it that way. Stop trying to be a social justice warrior, you’re doing it wrong.
Lucky this wasn’t a serious medical emergency, because if it came down to it, I’d genuinely pick death over wearing a mask. And what a waste after all this chemo… Cue suicidal impulses. I started scanning the room for ways to end my life immediately. One of the insiders interrupts my thought flurry and chimes in “well that’s just stupid, you’re in a hospital ED, not only would you not have enough time to initiate anything non-reversible by the ward filled with trained doctors, you’d likely wake up in a mask and they’d just end up sectioning you and you’d be stuck here. Think things through dumbass.” Another then sniggers, “didn’t work the first time, why would it work now?” Then I hear a “HEY! Did none of you HEAR the nurses name?” I had been too focused on freaking out to notice. “It’s Estelle! Maybe you should reconsider that blood test.”
Yeah killing yourself in hospital doesn’t work too well. At least wait til you get to the car park.
Is it wrong that I draw her attention to these coincidences as though they’re mystical truths? I mean whatever works to get the what’s best for us outcome huh, kinda like talking to a kid 😂.
Should we be commenting on the first go to thought in an uncomfortable situation always being death? That internally humiliation, even the fear of it, is still considered worthy of capital punishment…
Ignore her, she’s just attention seeking again. Tell her to shut up or do it already.
Cue the nurse walking back in. “Ooh you’re still here! Shall we do the bloods then?”
I still wonder if she was hoping we’d bugger off. Is the “we understand this is hard for you and you can leave anytime” an effort to give a sense of agency or just a hint?!
Honestly, it felt like a hint to me. Think about it, it probably saves them a lot of paperwork if you self discharge.
“Um, did you say your name is Estelle?” “Yes it is!” The nurse affirmed by pointing to her name tag. “Okay, since your name’s Estelle… I guess that means I’d better do the bloods…” I accidentally said that last bit out loud and to Estelle’s credit her quizzical raised eyebrow WTF expression only lasted a second before her eyes started smiling again. I guess she sees a lot of crazy people in her line of work.
Lol, you know how she gave us a buzzer? She should have just said call out to her… “Stelllllaaaaaa!!!!”
Why do you always talk? *face palm*
Feeling like I should provide some sort of reason for my comment (other than the truth). I stammered something about the name being unusual and that it had suddenly come up for me a few times in just a few days so it felt meaningful somehow. She humoured me and said something supportive about synchronicities.
God I’m glad you didn’t ask “were you my pet horse in a past life?” out loud. I don’t know if we would have been able to come back from that… Literally, like it would take a lot of fast talking to back out of that one.
Isn’t the fast talking what gets us into these messy situations in the first place?
I didn’t feel the needle go in, I’m not sure if she’s just really good at phlebotomy or I was too all over the place to physically feel things. As she wrote on the test tubes she checked the time “12:14” she commented out loud. Again I accidentally spoke out loud, “Really?!”
She was like, “yeah… why?” And I explained that the sequential numbers 214 is another one of those synchronicity things and now that was two things. She again kindly humoured me and told a story of a friend with a lucky number and I just concentrated on not speaking my thoughts.
Estelle drew the curtain around the bed so people wouldn’t notice my lack of face wear and left me to my crazy. A doctor eventually turned up and agreed to prod my abdomen even though I was maskless. I anxiously attempted to explain to her that I was completely fine really, this was an over reaction, I just wanted to leave and I was really sorry for being there and sorry for not having a mask and sorry for wasting her time.
Because that’s a sure fire way to not annoy someone.
She commented nicely that that’s what pays her bills and it was fine, but I still felt like a dick. She said the blood test should be back soon and unless something major showed up I would be free to leave.
Guess she was really praying the bloods would be fine at that point!
I was busy kicking myself for talking too much again when the Dr returned. She announced that my blood work indicated I had mild pancreatitis which would account for the symptoms, but because I was not in much pain I could just leave. She said to come back if it got worse and I was thinking ‘yeah thanks, um no. I’ll figure something out myself if it gets worse.’ And I left as fast as I possibly could.
I love how the discharge paperwork says “denies any additional symptoms or concerns” Did they actually ask? I don’t remember but I think that we were too preoccupied with mask anxiety to even think to mention all the other issues that in hindsight are potentially related. And there are the increased gynaecological issues that we can’t ask about incase they want to do an exam. Bloody anxiety. Couldn’t we have had cancer in a different body part? Like seriously, talk about feed existing insecurities.
Also the summary commented that we can tolerate oral intake. That wasn’t exactly true, yeah we can drink okay but we hadn’t eaten that day and I am sure they didn’t ask about food/drink intake, only if the ileostomy was still working. That still works with no oral intake at all if there’s no bowel blockage, remember in hospital we were on TPN for like 2 weeks, you just get green coloured output. We didn’t think to mention it but it hurts quite a bit straight after eating and has done to a lesser degree for ages, way before this new pain started.
I don’t think I’d call it “pain”, discomfort maybe.
Easy fix, we just won’t eat! Wouldn’t kill us to drop a few of those kilos we’ve piled back on anyway.
So I was able to both see Agatha AND go out in a mask free environment with my wonderful friend L and a group of our mutual friends that I don’t get to catch up with very often. Win.
Just to play devil’s advocate here… They didn’t give an explanation as to why we got pancreatitis in the first place. I Dr. Google’d it and it suggests alcohol and gall stones as the most common reasons. We don’t drink and we don’t have a gall bladder. Uncommon reasons include cancer - which of course I am particularly anxious about given our history. Though apparently colorectal cancer only rarely metastasises to the pancreas (though we seem to be the queen of ‘rare’ don’t we, so can’t completely rule it out). Plus, can we please try and remember to mention the hip pain? That’s been increasing for a month and it’s making it tricky to get to sleep.
It’s almost like you could take some painkillers to help with that problem, if only we had the technology. 🧐
We don’t need pain killers.
I wouldn’t mind knowing the cause of the hip pain though.
Getting old? A shit ton of surgeries? Hypochondria? Overuse of the word ‘needs’?
I am just going to cut it off there because it devolved pretty quickly into name calling and went way off topic. So if anyone has actually read this far then props to you!