Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tech-ed Off-My Latest Encounter with an Underling of the Medical World

Today, I went to a diagnostic center for an MRI that my neurologist had ordered. I had my first MRI in 1997 and subsequent ones every other year. In other words, I am no stranger to the procedure. Still, I was going to a different facility so I had no idea what to expect from the physical location or its staff. It was quite an experience.

I am accustomed to the general public being uncomfortable, insensitive and incompetent when it comes to interacting with my disabled self. However, I expect more from those in the medical field and I am often disappointed. The radiology technician I dealt with today really got under my skin. To begin with, he was a middle-aged man who had a look on his face that said "I really don't want to deal with this person." When he called my name and my aide pushed me toward him, he asked why I was in a wheelchair and if I needed it. I am wondering why he didn't read the order that showed I was getting an MRI because of my MS diagnosis. I had to tell him that I could not walk or stand, I was paralyzed from the waist down. Then, he asked me if I ever had an MRI before. Again, if he had just looked at my record for a second he would have seen that I was diagnosed with MS 11 years ago and have had at least seven MRIs.

Since the machine is a big magnet, I had to be transferred from my wheelchair to another that could go in the near it. My aide performed that transfer, but she was not allowed into the MRI area. In fact, he yelled at her not to take a step into the MRI room. He transferred me from the chair to the MRI in an awkward manner and nearly let the top half of me flop backwards. Instead of saying he was sorry, he commented that I "couldn't even sit up by myself." This is something that I knew already and didn't need to be made to feel bad about it. I have found that when someone is inept at dealing with a disabled person, they will blame the person for problems instead of themselves. This guy even complained about my small veins and my inability to straighten one of my arms out fully. I hope that he never has to deal with a stroke patient or someone with Parkinson's. I could just hear him saying, "can't you stop shaking?"

Sometimes, I feel that I should complain to someone about situations like this because some other person who is weaker, sicker or older might receive the same treatment and be unable to advocate for themselves. However, I'm not the crippled champion fighting for the rights of the disabled and the chronically diseased. The reality is that there is a shortage of nurses, aides, technicians, receptionists, etc. People don't take pride in their work and a lot of them went into the medical field because they were told they would always be in demand, not because they wanted to help people and make a difference. Sadly, people like me need people like them and although there are lots of good people out there, it's the ones like the one I encountered today that stick in my memory.

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