They turned to each other, rolling their eyes and told her it would only be a few minutes. She mumbled something and crawled...literally...back into the room. She could be heard up the hall, crying and and moaning. One of the girls turned to the other one and said, "What a drama queen." The second girl leaned in close and said, "Looks like she is looking for some pain meds." The lady was very pretty, very petite; neither of them remembered seeing her before. They did know, however, that there had recently been a steady stream of patients doing whatever they could to acquire pain meds. The first one whispered back, "Must be in the water up here."
A few weeks later, the two assistants that had been on duty that evening were told by the doctor that the patient actually had a rather large, inoperable brain tumor. Even the doctor, who had his own doubts about her claims, felt like someone had plowed him in the gut with a sledgehammer.
I am ashamed, very ashamed to admit that one of those assistants was me. I left work in tears. I went home and laid across the bed and cried for what felt like hours...and I prayed. I was so sorry for ever doubting her and I promised myself and everything holy that I would never, ever do it again.
I apologized to the patient the next time I saw her. "I am so incredibly sorry that I doubted you. I want you to know that you have helped open my eyes and I promise you I will never doubt anyone's symptoms again." Much to my surprise, she reached up and hugged me. "You didn't have to tell me, but you did. Thank you for that. We all make mistakes girl; God knows I have!," and her laugh is a sound I won't easily forget. "Now," she said straightening her arm out and plopping down in my draw chair, "Let's get this crap over with, shall we?"
She continued to come in for her blood work, and each time was a little more of a challenge. Chemo does Hellish things to a person's body, including their veins. Because of legal reasons, we were not permitted to draw from a foot and eventually had to find an alternative to all of the other places we had been using. We found our last resort...on the back of her forearm; the part from her elbow to the outside of her wrist. It wasn't long after that, that the doctor told us she had passed away. It had been less than 6 months... That was years ago, before I'd even gone to nursing school I believe. But those memories and the feeling I had when I found out the truth with never elude me. I have kept my promise to her and to myself and never plan to break it.
I've been called a drama queen myself, been told that everything I say should be taken with a grain of salt, that I make stories up, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, woof, woof. Hey, whatever makes them feel better, ya know? I know in my heart what the truth is and I do my very best to live by it. I never want to experience that feeling of shame and the guilt that went with it again...never. Does that make me a fool? A sucker? Gullible? Trust me...I've been called far worse.
And if I am the one who's wrong? Then so be it! I'll take my chances and err on the side of believing someone before I try to discredit them. Have I gotten burnt that way? Yep...I sure as heck have! But I also learn to be a little more cautious each time... and I have learned to watch out for the snakes!
Rock on my friends... rock on!