Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My New Infusion Center

In an email to a judicial friend up nort’ (as we Wisconsinites say) I included my observation that the nurses at the Infusion Center rarely if ever smiled or talked to us during the time we received our chemo. I didn’t say more than that to him, and suffice to say here that I perceived a lack of compassion and interest by the nurses in us patients, including how we felt or what we thought. The atmosphere lacked vitality. 

The result for me was a sense of being discounted, a diminishment of my personhood, a subtle dehumanization to the point where I felt I was simply a body with a medi-port to which an IV could be attached.

A few argue that the nurses need to use distance as a defense mechanism, but from what? This is not a hospice or an in-patient hospital unit. We are not dying. This is a chemo clinic. We are there to get better. To live!

My friend responded that he was “incensed’’ to hear this about the nurses. His response had a transformative effect on me. He seemed to feel the anger that I couldn’t rouse from within myself. It was as though he rode in as my knight in shining armor. So I let him take me up on his horse and we galloped off to a different Infusion Center which just happens to be less than two miles from my home. (I hadn’t noticed it before since I wasn’t in the market for one.) I asked my oncologist to transfer my treatments to the closer clinic. Done.

Having Round 3 of my chemo at the new center has been better than having a plastic pumpkin filled with my favorite Halloween candy bars.

It is lighter colored with windows from floor to nearly the ceiling. The view is lovely. There are closely planted trees, each one’s leaves turning its own color – yellow, deep purplish red, bright red, orange. Birds fly in to nibble from the feeders. And off in the distance a copse of old trees reminds me of my childhood: Colburn Park, just one block from home, where we spent our summer mornings, afternoons and evenings.
But best of all at my new Infusion Center are the nurses.

They look at me when they talk to me or ask me questions.

They know the chemo drugs inside and out.

There is a nursing station but they understand that this is where they chart and that we patients are of primary importance.

They apologized on the first day that they had been too busy to come over sooner just to talk and get to know me and my husband.

Despite it being a smaller center, they work harder and more efficiently.

They seem to like their work and – gadzooks – us!

They carry out their work as though their philosophy is to make everything as easy and as comfortable as possible for us, that we are the ones who are suffering and need our energy for healing, and they are there to help us in every way they can.

These nurses are genuine healers who maintain an authentic healing space. They do all nurses proud.

© Jean DiMotto, 2011    Website:  

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps it has something to do with how very young the nurses are. All day, every day they see people with cancer. It's got to get to them. I know when I was 24, I was invincible, would never get sick, never thought of death, even with all my vices already firmly entrenched. Maybe they should be on another floor. Is there a floor where everyone gets well and goes home, back to their life before getting sick. I am there too and it is depressing for sure.