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Friday, August 16, 2013

I want to be a Karen

Today I am having an emotional hangover.  I knew yesterday would be a workout and it was.  Boy, howdy, it was.  I have an older friend/acquaintance who is in a real pickle.  She has stage 4 colorectal cancer with metastasis, and is not as financially blessed as some.  She had an oncology appointment at the Parkland Oncology clinic yesterday (and no one to drive her) so another friend and I took her.

Yep.  Back to Parkland.  Quit laughing.  It makes me smile just thinking about it.  Taking her brought back lots of old memories.  Some great.  Some not so great, and some just plain scary but that's another story.  Yesterday, I could see that my friend simply does not understand what's going on.  I asked her what she needed from me that afternoon.  To please guide me, as I did not want to overstep my role as chauffeur, so I gave her a verbal menu of roles I could play.  Driver, friend, wheelchair pusher, support person (quiet), advocate/RN (not so quiet), hard question asker.  As I anticipated, she responded with "all of the above". (Since I am not family or even  a best or close friend, I really wanted/needed to know my boundaries.) 

Oh, crud.  "All of the above".  That's heavy stuff.  Thankfully, I had my other friend there to help and, boy, howdy, another set of hands, a great brain, and another body, sure came in handy.  The clinic was just as I remembered, even though I'd never been to that exact one.  Efficient (usually), full of sick folks not feeling so great, and staff that I simply love.  All just people.  

It was funny to me how the old Parkland training from Brian kicked right in and when I wasn't sure what to do next, I asked.  At one point in the second part of the check in process, my friend got really nauseated and was about to blow.  My other friend said "help!!!" and here I was standing at the check in, forging my nauseated friend's name for her since 1) she felt lousy, and 2) because we couldn't get her wheelchair through the morass of chairs.  I asked Karen, our check in person, for a basin and towels, and off she flew.  Meanwhile I spotted a white topped trash can right near by, so I whipped off the top, scooted it right next to my now gagging friend's wheel chair, and bingo.  You get the picture. 

A minute or so later, sweet "check in" Karen appeared with a towel, wash cloth, and a plastic basin and I reassembled the trash can.  My other friend got my barfing friend a cold wet wash cloth and we were back in business.  When we got back to the check in process, Karen looked at me and said in the kindest and most tender voice, "I'm so sorry".  All I could do was look in her eyes, thank her for her help, and say "Me, toooooo".

The story above it completely unimportant except for one thing.  There are lots of "Karen's" working at Parkland.  In fact, there are lots of Karen's everywhere.  Watch for them.  If you look for them, you will see them.  But more than that, today I'm trying to remember to be one. 

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