I Believe Things Should Work Properly

Nature at work. Properly.

Miles run yesterday: 8

Surgeons visited with a friend: 2

Wheelchairs pushed yesterday: 1

I have a strong belief in order in the universe: appliances should function, and bodies should never break down in any manner.

I also think people should be nice to each other. Every now and then, that doesn’t work out so well for me; being optimistic has its down side.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with a friend who recently had surgery. She was still on pain meds and crutches, so she needed someone to drive her to her post-op appointment.

I do things like this, not because I am a super-kind person, but because I am horrible at dealing with sickness and hospitals and saying the right thing and being supportive when people are less than healthy. I view my tiny acts as a kind of penance. I need to make up for my ineffectiveness as a friend and human being.

One time when I was in high school, I talked to my grandmother about it. I told her I wasn’t great at dealing with illness.

She looked at me, narrowed her eyes, and said, “I hate sick people.” And we laughed.

Already, she was facing friends who were dying and family members whose bodies were failing in one way or another. And we both knew that we stunk as patients; possibly, we were worse as caregivers.

This spring, I have volunteered to help out in the only way I am equipped to do so: driving people to medical appointments.

Here’s what I spotted on my medical journey by proxy:

1. A daycare center playground mere yards from the exit at an infertility clinic. That, and the clinic stocks “Baby & Toddler Guides” in its waiting room.

2. Wheelchairs provided at a surgical clinic, but elevators and doorways built exactly the width of the wheelchair.

3. When my friend had two doctor appointments in the same building, she was the one who had to undress, get examined, re-dress and carry her crutches and wheelchair to another clinic. I saw the doctors; we might have gone out for a run together afterwards… Should the least mobile person in the party be the one asked to climb Everest?

4. Check-in times at the front desk rivaled the time it took me to complete the SAT. This was a person the surgeons operated on only last week; did they lose her paperwork? Or were they collecting details in case they chose to write a novel about her in the future? Either way, she was on crutches.

And now, the things I have learned about myself:

1. I am the opposite of patient.

2. I need snacks.

3. I take back what I said in my post the other day: I don’t invent reasons to drink at two in the afternoon unless I am sitting in a waiting room. There, I fantasize about turning the space into a swanky cocktail hour. Think about what we could do with wheelchairs if the desk staff served martinis and pinot noir.

Healthcare may need an overhaul, but I’m not sure they’re focused in on the right issues. What are your observations? Suggestions?

How about Missoni hospital gowns? Computerized check-in like airline tickets? Wine and cheese in the waiting areas? Hot pink crutches? Drive-thru post-op?