One for me, one for my mother. I arrived for my annual physical a little early to fill out any needed paperwork. While I was bent over my clipboard, my doctor’s nurse approached the woman behind the desk. She leaned over and said quietly “What’s that?” nodding in my direction. “That’s a physical” was the reply. Then they both groaned softly.
It’s common practice for patients to be objectified by their condition, especially if it’s chronic. But that was the first time I’d witnessed it, let alone experienced it. I immediately switched to a different practice.
My mother cut her hand badly enough to need stitches. I’d taken her to the nearest ER, which was a small, local offshoot of one of the area’s largest hospitals. She was eventually seen by two EMTs who happened to be there. They were clearly friends and gossiped as they stitched her up. One was complaining about how quiet mountain towns are, and how happy he was that he’d transferred to the big city. The other one, the one working on my mom, agreed. “Yeah,” he replied. “Denver’s got all the good trauma.”
My mother tensed, but didn’t say anything. I was horrified. I believe I said something like “Did you just say that?” My mother, ever the peacemaker, tried to laugh it off. The two mental giants didn’t even understand why we were upset at first. “The GOOD trauma??” I prompted. Finally it clicked. They started stammering that if you’re someone who has dedicated their life as a first responder, it’s best to go where the action is. Their talents are wasted in a quiet little mountain town. Finally they just sputtered to a stop and slunk out the door. I’m sure they thought that we, as civilians, would never “get it”. Oh no. We “got it” just fine. No matter how good you are, sweetheart, your best day is someone else’s worst day. Celebrating that day is obscene.