Being a Rotten Patient.
Yesterday, I was a rotten patient.
At this point in my previous pregnancy, I had already been in hospital on bedrest for two weeks, so this whole rolling around on the “outside” while a few days shy of 37 weeks pregnant is new to me. The emotions I felt on bedrest were really volatile and I cried a lot and HEY that same shit keeps happening even though I’m not on bedrest currently. Which means that my third trimester experiences are consistent, at least emotionally.
Which sets the stage for yesterday. I had an appointment at the maternal fetal medicine offices and then at my endocrinologist, both up in Boston. Usually, the ride takes me about an hour and 45 minutes, but I give myself 2 hours and 15 minutes every time, to anticipate traffic. Yesterday, the ride took two and a half hours because of wicked traffic on Brookline Avenue, which made me late for my scheduled ultrasound.
I do not like to be late. And yesterday, being late made me all emotional. My car crawled up Brookline Avenue while I imagined having to reschedule my appointment for the following day, making the stupid drive all over again. By the time I pulled into the parking garage, I had six minutes to find the right hospital wing and check in for my appointment.
Which, of course, I did not do efficiently. Late pregnancy hormones and emotions have my brain mostly scrambled, so I ended up in the wrong wing of the clinic, nowhere near where I was supposed to be. My blood sugar started to tumble at this point, bringing emotions even more to the surface while I left a trail of glucose tab dust along the hallways of Beth Israel. Add that to the fact that I was late and mildly lost in the myriad of signs and corridors and I lost my cool.
Man, I felt stupid. I was crying while waddling through the hospital, asking random people how to get to the proper hospital wing. Their directions weren’t making sense to my slightly hypoglycemic head. I could not pull myself together, awash with frustration and embarrassment and unable to control the emotional maelstrom swirling around me. I was unjustifiably angry that the best care for myself and my kid included a four hour road trip for every doctor’s visit. I was so tired from the low blood sugars that kept me up from 3 – 5 am and were the most symptomatic I’ve had in ages. I was angry that I couldn’t guarantee safety for my child as a result of my own health garbage. I was afraid that the stress of the moment was kicking my blood pressure into dangerous ranges. I was a frightful mess and it wasn’t anyone’s fault but mine but holy moly, I was blowing up balloons by the dozen for this ridiculous pity party I was throwing for myself.
By the time I arrived at the right place, I was 15 minutes late and trembling. And angry. So when the nurses were waiting outside of the bathroom to grab me for my appointment, I snapped at them. When they took my blood pressure while I was crying (could NOT stop for some reason), I knew the result would be elevated and would trigger a whole catalog of panicked responses from my healthcare team. Of course it was high, and of course I snapped at them again. Not their fault that I was late and my BP was high, yet they were the unfortunate recipients of my rage.
When the nurse I’ve been working with and a new doctor came in to discuss the results of my ultrasound (baby is fine) and my blood pressure (elevated for reasons I knew but they couldn’t pretend it couldn’t be a symptom of preeclampsia), I was still ranty and snapping. I could not calm down and I felt terrible – TERRIBLE – that I was lashing out at a medical team whose purpose was to protect my health and the health of my baby. But I still couldn’t get my shit together and acknowledge that for more than five minutes.
I was a rotten patient, all frustrated and angry. (The ultrasound technician told me it was okay and that they see a lot of emotions during appointments, and I felt myself simultaneously apologize and then get all upset again. No control.) I snapped at healthcare professionals who were not to blame for my terrible mood. I could not control my emotional responses to their reasonable requests. I’m embarrassed at how I acted. I hate admitting all of this.
The appointment circuit was finished later that afternoon, after everyone had reached the conclusion that I was able to go home until the next appointment (later this week) and reassess then. I apologized to the people I had acted bananas towards and drove home, hoping to be more emotionally stable the next time.
I need to see this pregnancy through safely, but the last nine months have really opened my eyes to what I need to receive, as a patient, and just as importantly, what I need to bring to the table, as a patient. Sometimes I can’t effectively perform as a full-time pregnant person, or a full-time person with diabetes (and clearly I’m struggling with doing both of those things at the moment), and I need to own that part of my healthcare experience. Or at least stop crying in the stupid elevators, making everyone on there with me think I’m about to give birth in front of them.