The Cancer Center

Well, what an eventful October and November we had.

In hindsight, my sister’s second tearful message did not strike me at the time as the foreboding it was.  Another mile marker passed, on this sad and strange trip to a destination as yet unacknowledged by me.

Driving, zooming, from my workplace to the hospital site to assist, I listened to my sister’s tale of a strange encounter with the Patient Relations Director.  Incredulously, he had decided to ban her from the room for being “disruptive.”

I entered the scene with a neutral disposition, intending to discover facts only; I waited patiently for fifteen minutes before I could discuss the issue with the Director.  Meanwhile, my tension level was growing because no one could be by my mother’s side right at that moment.  Was she writhing in pain?  Had she pushed the nurse button and gotten no response?  Did she need to use the restroom?  But I remained calm and focused on resolving the issue with the Director.

When I finally had opportunity to meet the man, I politely asked the nature of my sister’s “disruption.”  Three times I asked, yet his response was simply to repeat the phrase, “She was disruptive,” in a bizarre Abbot & Costello routine I could not escape.  Finally, after my third repetition of the yet unanswered question, the Patient Relations Director seemed to implode a little.  Or maybe a lot.  Like a plump, boiled plum, he swelled and reddened, giving me the oddest response, no logic or maturity tied to it.

“Don’t try me.”  

It might not read as ludicrous as it sounded.  But those words were the most ridiculous I could have heard at that moment.  Were we in a street fight?  Was he my teacher?  I had difficulty making sense of this phrase.  I simply asked for details on his decision.  And that was the response.  Stunned, I could only repeat his phrase, “Don’t try me” questioningly.

And incredibly, his next move was to call the police on my sister and me for trespassing. All, of course, under the guise of “protecting patient safety.”

So while my mother lay alone in an unfamiliar place, my sister and I were negotiating our way out of unwarranted trouble. Thankfully, this police officer was clearly of sound reason and found no justification to remove us from the premises.

Finding himself with no legal support, Mr. Patient Relations Director proved himself a blatant liar by now insisting that he never forbade me from going to visit my mother in her room. Fine. I was permitted to visit my own mother. With a laughably unnecessary escort of three women, I was guided to my mother’s room.

I wished she could have a moment of true awareness just to laugh with me at the ridiculousness of this situation. She was the one who had taught us to laugh. She would have laughed. And I hope she may be now.

She had also taught us to fight and not lie down. So I fought to have her discharged into hospice at home care.


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