I’ve had very little interaction with the people who make up our health care system. Probably twice in my adult life that I can recall have I had regular, daily exposure to these folks.
Once, when my mom was sick and I left LA to help take care of her, and then the following year when one of my dearest friends got the kind of cancer you can live through, and my freelance lifestyle made me the perfect candidate to be her “Nurse Bonnie.” I got really good at giving her injections and helping her with chemo-related things.
I remember thinking it was nice to be a part of the care process with someone who wasn’t dying, and that these people who spend their lives in service of those in need of health care — whether dying, fighting, living through it all, or just improving something electively — are very special. They’re nurturing, they’re kind, they’re precise and efficient and clinical when circumstances call for that, and most of all, they’ve dedicated their lives to comforting those who are going through some really scary shit, sometimes.
Well, over the past couple of weeks I’ve had the pleasure (yes, pleasure) of dealing with some of the most phenomenal health care workers I’ve ever met. Again, I haven’t met a lot, because I’ve spent most of my life avoiding doctors as much as possible (due to a combination of a very early life experience that was medically terrifying, lack of insurance, and generally excellent health, frankly), so it’s not like I have a huge basis for comparison. But, even so, this daily exposure to health care workers — from the urgent care center to the after hours on-call team and from the anesthesiologist to the PAs and from the surgical team to the wound-care and post-op check-up folks — has taught me something I suppose I needed to learn.
There are people in this world who are built for bringing comfort to others. There are people who — no matter how scared the person on the receiving end may be — can bring peace into the situation. There are people who can calm, care, and educate while also compassionately (and creatively) handling billing so that the uninsured is not also the “royally screwed” by unnecessary or bloated charges.
No, I’m not ready to talk much about what I’ve just been through. Yes, I’m fine. Better every day. I am ridiculously lucky to have the type of career in which I can still thrive as long as I have an hour a day during which I can focus and do my work, and I am *really* fortunate to have the type of personality that has systems in place for keeping everything afloat even when something catastrophic happens. More than anything, I’m blessed to be surrounded by my family of choice, my team of ninjas, my besties and my loves, because even though they were scared too, they rallied and helped me be less scared, which is of greater value than anything else.
Every single person I have met along this journey — EVERYONE from the parking lot attendant to the cashier at the pharmacy (not just the health care workers, actually) — has been filled with love for what they do in life, and I guess I’ve just not had enough exposure to people outside the entertainment industry who gleefully live their dreams. I am so glad that there are people out there whose dreams include taking care of folks like me from time to time.
Our health care system may have a lot wrong with it, but for all its flaws, it attracts some truly phenomenal people and I am so freakin’ grateful to have had my life in their capable and caring hands.