Tuesday, June 23, 2009

life, death, and perspective.

So I spent 2 hours in the "community psychiatry and psychology" clinic at Mayo this morning for an intake appointment. I mentioned to Dr. Doogie that it would just be easier, even though I love my pdoc in Eau Claire, not to have to drive 2 hours to see him, so he gave me a referral.

Turns out that Dr. Doogie, being new, didn't know that this particular clinic only does "short-term" care. Which means I spent all that time filling out forms and retelling my history (which they had, via electronic medical records, since my pdoc in EC is Mayo-affiliated) just to be told, "yeah, well, we'll refer you to the resident outpatient clinic. They'll call you sometime. Oh, and you want a therapist? Great. Here's a bunch of them -- OUTSIDE MAYO." (Because, you know, who needs continuity of care or anything? Wouldn't it make sense to keep all the medical types in the same system?)

"Resident outpatient clinic" doesn't mean it's for folks who live in Rochester, it means it's staffed by 3rd-year psych residents. They leave. Every year. So, no continuity of care there either.

So, already peeved, I head off to another Clinic building (essentially in Siberia, from the one I was leaving -- quite a hike) to get my blood thinner level checked. After another 20-minute-past-the-appointment-time wait, I get called back, walk in, and see the damn CoaguChek. They run on the same principle as diabetic glucose meters. They also are proven to be wildly inaccurate on people with APS (my clotting disorder).

I mention that to the nurse. She, nor any of her nurse buddies, had ever heard that. My INR came back at 1.5, which basically means I am no more anticoagulated than someone who doesn't take Coumadin.

Nurse Karen calls Dr. Doogie, who says it's OK with him if I go down to the lab for a blood draw for comparison. So now I'm waiting for the results of that.

Cranky and starving, I stop by the vending machines near the lab (healthy snacks only, natch) for a small bag of trail mix. Mayo being a place that sees a lot of really, really sick and elderly people, there are places to sit where you wouldn't find them elsewhere. I plopped down on a nice padded bench right by the machines to have my snack.

As I'm sitting there, eating and stewing about my wasted morning, medical professionals who really ought to know more than their patients, etc, 3 little boys, clearly brothers, come barreling around the corner. The two older ones -- 6 and 8, maybe -- start wrestling. The little one, who was 2 at the most, walks straight up to me, wordlessly, and sticks his hand out and waits.

Well! How does one refuse a cute little kid? I shook out a little of the trail mix into my hand. He picked out a raisin and went merrily on his way, without a word, leaving his brothers in his dust.

That worked temporarily, but by the time I was halfway to the parking garage I was annoyed again. There's a piano in the lobby of the Gonda Building, which is pretty much the point of entry for anywhere else in the Mayo complex (it's all connected by indoor subways). I looked at the scene unfolding there and started grumbling about cliches, because it really did look like one -- the beautiful, young blonde maiden, fashionably dressed, with her teacher, the old maid with the ponytail and the way-oversized glasses, accompanying her.

Then, she opened her mouth.

The first thing she tried was kind of operatic, and while she had the voice for it, she abandoned it pretty quickly after noticing what her audience had become -- largely old people, but some in really bad shape -- wheelchairs, oxygen, prostheses, whatever. She started in on some oldies but goodies and I watched as the old folks, especially, started singing along. Her first one was "Someone To Watch Over Me," which is particularly poignant, given the setting. When she started into "I'll Be Seeing You" and the woman in the wheelchair by the piano got this dreamy look in her eyes and started to sing along, I left -- because I'll be damned if I'm going to bust out sobbing in the middle of the frigging Gonda Building.

That's the thing about Mayo: you get people from all over the world, different cultures, languages, and life stages coming through its doors. In about half an hour today I ran the gamut from toddler to young adult to aged -- and no matter what had brought them there, they all taught me a little something about life, and sharing. And perspective.

Ol' Blue Eyes

I'll be seeing you
In all the old, familiar places;
That this heart of mine embraces;
All day through.

In that small cafe;
The park across the way;
The children's carousel;
The chestnut tree;
The wishing well.

I'll be seeing you;
In every lovely summer's day;
And everything that's bright and gay;
I'll always think of you that way;
I'll find you in the morning sun;
And when the night is new;
I'll be looking at the moon;
But I'll be seeing you.

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