Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Don't blow sunshine up patient's ass = my new favourite line


I didn't get to write much while I was away...so I'm making it up to you folks these last few days. Cuz' I know you'll all just die without my little bon mots to keep you afloat.

So today was a big day in the land of me. I went for a job interview. It's at the same hospital where I'm currently (technically, although I haven't actually worked more than a month this year) employed. I think it went well. I managed to avoid having to bring up my dead baby, which was a plus as this was something I was worried about before the interview. I wondered if they were going to say something like "I've looked you up on the hospital registry and it says that you are currently on leave?" Then I would have had to say "oh, yes...well...erm...I'm on maternity leave (true...not a lie...)", which then of course someone would immediately ask "oh, how nice...how old is your baby..." etc. Which is when the awkwardness and possibly tears would start and so on and so forth. Not exactly the picture of the competent, ready-for-anything nurse that I was hoping to project.

The only question that came close was the inevitable "so what interest's you in this job?" Fortunately I managed to come up with a better reply then "the patients don't resemble my dead son" that wants to roll off my tongue. I think I even managed to convey enthusiasm. So much, in fact, that I might even get the job. Of course, no matter how good any job is right now, it's not the job entitled "MOM" that I really wanted. This is how I now see life. I will, of course, get the job because I can only dredge up a moderate amount of enthusiasm for it. The NICU job I wanted more than any other back in nursing school has now been kind of tainted because it reminds me WAY too much of my real life. And the job I dreamed about since I could dream "being a MOM"...died.

After that I headed to the bookstore. I picked up Elizabeth McCracken's book "An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination". It's good. I like that it's not infused with too much "God" questioning or other such spiritualism. I cannot relate to that. I do however relate to her dark humour. I'm finding my own gets me through the day.

Upon discussing her second pregnancy which she conceived 3 months after the first was stillborn, she said she felt like correcting the nurse teaching the prenatal classes each time she said "when" and reminding her that the correct terminology is "if". Exactly.

It also contains the line that I know I've read on Glow in the Woods, and I connected to it then. I'm not sure what posting it was from or if the author of that post ripped it from Ms. McCracken, or vise-versa or if it's just a common phrase that I had never heard before, but really, it doesn't matter. It could apply to anyone of us at this point. And it sure as hell applies to me. Has since 2 days after I was born and the doctors diagnosed me with a rare heart defect. It should be written on all our charts. I could use it as my letterhead.

"Do Not Blow Sunshine Up Patient's Ass".

Cuz' really...when the worst has all ready happened to you, you know it could happen again. Doesn't really make you feel better to hear that "Things will be better next time" or "God will only give you what you can handle". If that's true then apparently God didn't think me, an NICU nurse, was competent enough to handle a perfectly healthy normal baby boy. So yeah...it's my new favourite line. Maybe I'll get a tattoo of it...and I bet you can guess where it should go!

I mention this because I was at my family doctor's today after my interview. I was there for my 6 week check up...12 weeks later. I suppose when I made the appointment I happened to mention that it would be my postpartum visit. So I shouldn't have been surprised when the nurse took me into the exam room and started pulling out the 'tools of the trade' so to speak for the doctor to use when she examined me. The speculum, the gel, the latex gloves, etc. She then says to me "So you had a baby". Yep. "Was it a boy or a girl?" A boy. "Congratulations". Thanks. She didn't ask where he was so I heaved a sigh of relief as she left. Does she not realize that I would likely have shown up, with a baby, if there was one to show up with? Ahhh...even people in the medical world don't realize that pregnant does not necessarily equal baby.

Then the doctor came in. I saw her about a month ago, so we'd already done the sobbing and retelling of the story so this time I got to tell her about our appointment with Dr. K. Just for my own piece of mind and my husbands I asked her "So when he says I should wait 6 months...is that like under the heading 'what to tell women about subsequent pregnancy'?" Her answer was "yes, basically we tell people to wait three cycles and for most that can take up to six months". She says from her standpoint the only thing that she wants me to have checked out is my heart. Since I already have that appointment booked (tomorrow in fact), and I've already had 2 periods, she's happy just to let us decide from now on. I think that will make my husband feel better and will help me feel better (less ashamed? less worried?) if I happen to show up sooner rather than later with a positive pregnancy test. In telling her about my appointment with Dr. K. I also told her what his parting words were to us upon leaving his office: "Six months isn't that long...if you wait six months...that might be before the end of the year! I have a good feeling about you guys...and I can generally tell about these things." In short...he blew sunshine and rainbows and sing-song birds at us. Cuz' really, what was he basing his 'good feeling on'? My 'better than a miscarriage' this time around? My 0/1 pregnancy count? Definately not my stellar medical history.

And I love that when I told this to my family doctor she laughed in a dark humour kind of way and said "well...he probably just didn't know what to say". Exactly. People just don't know what to say. Even medical people.

Upon leaving the office, I asked my family doctor if she would like a copy of Aidan's autopsy report for my records. She said "yes please, have the ladies at the front desk make a copy for your chart". So I passed over the letter, all five pages of it, clearly labelled "Autopsy Report" and had that perky desk clerk make a copy. She came back a few minutes later with her eyes all red. She said "the nurse was there when I was making a photocopy and she saw what it was and said that she feels bad for asking you about the baby. She wanted me to tell you she's sorry". Then she said "I'm so sorry too" and hugged me. I was nice, it was good. It was honest. I thanked her with tears in my eyes and left.

Cautionary tale for all my medical colleagues. Take note. Check your sunshine at the door.

Have you had sunshine blown where the sun don't shine by medical personnel? Religious figures? People who just don't know what to say? How has it made you feel? How do you respond?


  1. Hope things work out for you with the new job! I'm planning to get that book tomorrow, I've also heard really good things about it...thanks for confirming what I've been hearing! I hear you on the medical personnel...my OB's office has been awful & entirely too perky!

  2. My RE is a very optimistic person...and when we had our first consult with him only a few short weeks after Bailey died, and he told us that next time should go better because we will be prepared and because my uterus should be more "accepting"...I about gagged. I almost jumped up and told him that it wasn't a guarantee. I know he sees cases like mine often, but give me a freaking break?

    I have had people tell me "it will happen someday for you" and I've had the response to someone (only did this once) of "can I get it in writing, please?". I'm pretty sure I thought someday was with Bailey...not later on down the road.

    Good luck on the job prospect! And I love the idea of getting that tattoed...that made me laugh!

  3. I hope you get the job! I'm glad the interview went so well. I've got my fingers crossed for you...

    My OB/GYN's office (not the RE I'm seeing now) used to be pretty bad about blowing sunshine. When I went in after my second miscarriage, they wanted me to do the pee-in-a-cup thing, weigh... it was like they didn't know I had a miscarriage. And somehow they didn't. I wasn't about to get into a whole conversation about it with the nurse there in the hallway, surrounded by all sorts of other people. So I did all the standard "pregnancy check" things she wanted me to do. So once we got into the private room, I reminded her why I was there.

    And I got all the standard, "things will work out next time" speech.

    I reminded her this was my SECOND miscarriage.

    She left the room in a hurry.

    I do not miss that office. At all.

  4. i'm so glad the nurses sort of apologized. i haven't had any "sunshine" from medical professionals since kenny died, but the very first time we met with our RE, he sort of glossed over the whole process we would be going through. he made it sound so easy, and i foolishly walked out of there thinking i'd be pregnant within three months - it took 8 months of testing and insurance authorization before we could even start our IUI's, and it took four before it stuck (which ultimately, it didn't, i guess!)

    as much as he deals with this, i wish he would have said, "this can be a slow and frustrating process. there's a lot of red tape and waiting. and once you do get pregnant, it may not stick, but we'll keep trying, so just be patient." i was actually extremely impatient and frustrated for the first 5 months or so when finally i realized there was no way it was ever going to happen on my schedule, and that if i continued to be that way about it, it was going to be a very miserable process. so i calmed down about it and was able to go with the flow a little more - and it only took 7 more maddening months!

    i have an appt w/ my OB in a month and am not looking forward to it.