Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Chemo Room: What's Going On With THAT?

Here's something I've been wondering about lately ...

Why are cancer patients forced to get their treatment in a crowded room?  I don't know of any other diagnosis that results in patients being forced to sit in a room together while each of them, one by one, gets stuck with a needle and then filled with toxins, all while they sit there in a circle, like they are hanging out around a campfire getting ready to sing Kumbaya and roast marshmallows.

Is it an attempt to mask the fact that each person is really fighting alone, no matter how much we love them and no matter how much we support them and want (need) them to get better, no matter how much we wish we could take away their pain or how hard we would fight to take their place?  

Is it supposed to be like a Cancer Club, with their cushy recliners and (if you're really "lucky,") flat screen TV's?  Because it's really not. Or at least it wasn't when I was in there with my dad.  For us, it was an environment of extreme stress, pain, and fear, tempered with just a little bit of hope and the belief that what was happening would be worth it.  But it didn't take having other Cancer patients in the room with us for that to be true. In the first chemo room we were in, the one at Duke, there were curtains between the recliners.  (Prior to then I'd read that only the newbies use them, but I didn't care - I pulled ours closed anyway so Dad would have some semblance of privacy.)  I'd heard that after the first few visits in the Chemo Room most patients prefer to keep the curtains open and chat with each other.  That sounds great.  And maybe for some people it is.  But I didn't see it, and I really can't imagine it seeming like anything other than an invasion privacy.  

For what I think were purely logistical reasons, our second visit to the Chemo Room was far worse than the first one. Neither one, of course, was a walk in the park for Dad, and, as you know if you've read our Behind The Scene Story, neither one ended up being worthwhile.  Both times, though, I remember feeling the breach of confidentiality and the urgent need for privacy and peace and comfort for Dad, all of which were not to be found in that type of a setting for him.

Is it an attempt on the part of the medical staff to keep people from showing their emotions?  We all know that peer pressure can be a very powerful thing.  I know there are lots of times in my life when I was hurt or scared and I wanted to cry but didn't because other people were around.  That just doesn't seem very nice, though, does it - using someone's pride against them, humiliating them into shutting down their fear, their pain, their anxiety, when they're battling for their lives?

Is it a cold hard dose of reality (like HEY YOU!  YOU REALLY DO HAVE REAL CANCER, and soon you'll be pale, bald, and sick-looking just like the other people in here!)?  OR, to shame them into not crying when they have to be stuck for the IV, when the chemo burns their veins, when terror hits them in the gut harder than any boxer ever could.  

I guess the most likely reason, though, and one that's in some way actually even sadder than those reason, is that it's a way to save money.  

Just one more thing about stupid Cancer that I don't understand.

No comments:

Post a Comment