Daily Archives: March 15, 2010

You never know what to expect as a volunteer

Once more I think I have bounced back and feel like facing my keyboard again. I know March has been kind of ignored. I’m sorry that if you are one of my faithful followers I haven’t been keyboarding lately.

I’d love to know the reason for what happens to me. I’m guessing it is just a minor relapse of the years of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that I experienced for so many years.

I lose all interest in everything, my brain slows down to sludge, I don’t care to go out. I can’t seem to get two brain cells to function at the same time. My muscles, especially in my thighs, start a dull ache, so I can’t get comfortable sitting or lying down. I simply exist the best I can. Thankfully it usually lasts only a few days instead of the years and then the months, and then the weeks that it used to do. I think I’m back again.

I went to my volunteer job this morning. Low and behold, I was given the job to do all by myself! There are three women who work in the public relations department. Two of them were out. The third one had to stay in the office. That left me. On Mondays I survey new patients on how they feel about the quality of care they have received since admission. The great majority of the comments are very positive. The patients are very pleased with the quality of care they receive and the warmth of the caregivers. It’s making me start to think if I need to be hospitalized again (heaven forbid) I might request to go there as a patient myself. This is a hospital that I heard nothing much good about (teaching hospital of last resort) most of my time spent here. They have certainly done a lot of hard work turning that image around. They really do pay attention to what the patients have to say.

I had to find my way around almost the entire hospital by myself. There are a few departments like ICU and psych that we don’t survey. Thank goodness that the hospital is filled with workers very eager to help others find their way around. I had to ask twice. The first time was an easy answer. The second time a maintenance man walked me far enough to direct me the rest of the way. I really appreciate that. It’s very easy to think of myself as a mouse in a maze. This place is huge!

Sometimes things happen and patients are dismissed and other patients are assigned to their beds before the admissions departments have a chance to change their records. Even in the age of computers some things are not instantaneous. I walked into one room expecting a man and found a woman. I excused myself and walked to the care station. I was told the patient listed had been discharged and the bed had already been filled. I went back to the room and talked with the new admission.

I am given so many chances to be thankful for the life I have been given to lead. This woman had met her husband when he was stationed in her home country, They married and came to the US. Because there were enough speakers of her language, she never had to learn English. Then, as too often happens, she and her husband divorced. Here she was in a foreign country a little over two years ago with no husband, no insurance, and no English,

She was only a few years younger than I am. She decided she had to learn English, so within a little more than two years she was able to carry on a conversation with me and do a good job at making herself understood. She has no one in this town to watch over her. She was lonely so I took a few minutes to talk with her.

In her native country she was a nurse who made $70.00 an hour. Everyone in her country has free medical care. Over here, she is not yet English proficient enough to get a nursing license. She certainly would not be making $70.00/hr. She can’t afford to live in the home she owns in another state so she has to rent it out.  That is her only income. She can’t afford insurance and she lands in the hospital. I felt sorry for her. I thanked God for my own life.

After I finished that job, I went to finish the job another volunteer started with the baby immunization program. The woman who usually does that job on Monday was not there today. There was only about twenty minutes worth of job left. Most of it had been already done. I’m glad I don’t startle easily. I walked into one room and there was a person in the bed under the covers with the newborn resting in a semi-reclining position being fed a bottle. Now this person was not sitting ON the bed but rather IN the bed. My first thought was that this person looked rather masculine, but then I’ve seen some rather masculine looking women. Then I thought that our county had its first male who had given birth, like the transgendered male, Thomas Beatie in Oregon. There was not any other person in the room. I was given the form I came for and I left as quickly as I could.

I have gotten to know one of the nurses on the floor. As I closed the patient’s door, she saw me smiling very broadly. She asked what was so funny. When I told her, she laughed too. “Believe me,” she giggled, “I will warn  you first if that ever happens.” It made my day. One must never be in too much of a rush to jump to conclusions. Namaste. Attic Annie


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