An Unexpected Post, A Poor Imitation of George Clooney

Posted on: February 24th, 2009 by Julie Bestry | No Comments


Readers, this was not the post I intended to write today. 

Within hours of putting up last week’s post, Come Time Traveling With Paper Doll, on organizing to communicate with (and make things easier for) your future self, I found myself wishing I’d been able to time travel to warn myself of what was coming next.  As that post was filling your monitors, Paper Doll was being rushed to the emergency room for the first (scary) day of a week-long hospital stay. Yikes!

I wish I could gush with smug pride and tell you I was calm, unemotional and awe-inspiringly brave in the face of distress. 

I wish I could tell you I didn’t eye the 15-year-old resident or her possibly-22-year-old attending a bit warily.  (“Are you sure you’re old enough to drive?”, I was tempted to ask the distaff Doogie Houser.) 

I wish I could tell you I was a charmingly patient patient and captivatingly witty, entertaining the ER and nursing staff with bon mots and organizing tips, decluttering the IVs and systematizing the oddly-shaped bedside tubs.  (Seriously, whoever thought these      were a good shape for anything was getting too little oxygen or too much from the medicine cart!)

In fact, with a lifetime of dedicated viewership of St. Elsewhere and Chicago Hope , Grey’s Anatomy  and ER , and often most terrifyingly, House  (did you SEE that toe fall off last week?), I know just enough (read: way too little combined with way too much) for my own comfort.  I properly guessed and discussed the diagnosis and much of the treatment, and was able to answer medical history questions thoroughly.  However, that didn’t keep me from turning into a relieved but whimpering baby once Paper Mommy‘s flight landed.

Organization can perform something akin to miracles, but just can’t prevent medical emergencies.  Stopping for a split second in the heat of the moment to grab my day planner, insurance coverage cheat sheet and a blank legal pad made all the difference in helping me feel secure and more in control during a situation in which a patient can control very little.

In the coming weeks, when I’m back to full strength, I plan to post some advice on dealing with medical and insurance paperwork and show how having the right paper can calm you during a medical emergency, help your doctors take care of you, enable your loved ones to reach you (and vice versa) and maximize your safety and the sanity in what can be a scary experience. 

Right now, however, Paper Doll must convalesce, forsaking sitting at the computer for long stretches.  Instead, I’ll be resting and making sense of the release orders and Get Well cards, the medical instructions and the insurance claims.  And I’ll be contemplating where George Clooney was when I needed him.

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