My mother-in-law had back surgery; so, I spent several hours Monday sitting at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital. I hate waiting rooms; so, I sat on the windowsill outside the elevators, overlooking the Joslin Clinic. I was sitting thinking fondly of the last time I had been in the Deaconess and the week I spent at the Joslin in November 1976.
Unlike most of the diabetic population, I have absolutely no regrets or hatred about being an insulin-dependent diabetic. I have other regrets; this is just not one of them. So, oddly enough I would probably have been perceived to be smiling while I was thinking back and so grateful for the people who built that ugly building. It seems to be in disrepair these days and they seem to be doing construction to the east side of the building – repair or expansion, I do not know.
At dinnertime, we went to the café in the Farr building. I think that is the original Deaconess building. I had been talking about the tunnel from the Deaconess to the Joslin earlier. Come to find out, there is a tunnel from the Clinical building to the Farr building too. That is where the café is located. Then there is a turn down a hallway that still goes to the Joslin. Cool, I think. Can I go? Na … not exactly appropriate.
The surgical liaison said they do not use it much anymore. Some “guy” (I was thinking facilities or IT) was giving an employee an orientation. He mentioned the bridge to the Farr building. I commented there is a tunnel too. He told the other gentleman twice to stay out of the tunnel. Hmm. Oh well. I can have fond my memories of my wheelchair ride anyway.
My bubble burst when I started hearing stories about appendage lopping. First, there was the son whose undiagnosed diabetic (fasting of 108 and on dialysis) father was in surgery losing his right leg. That poor guy was going to wake up without a leg and did not even know it. Then there was the employee whose 250-pound diabetic mother had both feet lopped off. NOW she has lost weight. Then there was the roommate of my mother-in-law who had knee surgery to only get a foot infection and need another surgery. I winced and asked, “You’re not a diabetic are you”? Yup. She also has diabetic relative who had also lost their leg.
I was ready to burst. I could not take hearing it anymore. I chatted with the surgical nurse. She told me they “see a lot of that here.” I am getting pretty upset at this point. She said they are usually “non-compliant” – one of my least favorite phrases.
All I could think of was how can I make this better? What can I do to help? How can I get through to these patients? Where can I volunteer or can I teach (good diabetes self-management)? What else can I do? I am using my voice; I realize that. It is just not enough. I want to do more. What can those of us in good control do? Medical school is just not an option. So what else is there? I am all ears guys … what else can we do? There just should be such a disparity between me looking fondly at the “building” I perceive to have given me the quality of life I have today and those who are in dire straits. There just has to be better. I wonder; is this where those lobbyist connections I discussed yesterday might come in handy?
Doris J. Dickson