Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spinning Out of Control

The patient population at the clinic can be very difficult and I am realizing the layers upon layers of poverty. Their lives have been teetering on the edge, in some cases, since they were born. Many patients are demanding and rude and their volatility has been getting more explosive recently. With so many job losses, budget cuts, and reduced resources, the nurses have become a verbal punching bag. It is common these days, for patients to interact with me in a disrespectful and uncivil manner. My stomach is often tied in knots as we interact. I have written about the hardships and the sadness I see. Here is an example of another way poverty expresses itself. While this patient also faces hardships and sadness, she is so angry and hostile that she makes it impossible for me to advocate or have compassion for her:

A patient is refused a prescription until she makes another appointment with her doctor. She yells so loudly at me, that I hold the phone a foot away from my ear. "WHY THE HELL CAN'T I HAVE THIS?! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!" This goes on and on until she finally demands, "LET ME TALK TO THAT NURSE THAT DON'T TALK TOO GOOD ENGLISH!" I can't help myself. I reply, "You want to talk to the nurse that don't talk too good english?" "YEAH! PUT 'ER ON! NOW!" I manage to calmly tell her that she's being rude and disrespectful and if she doesn't calm down I will need to hang up the phone. She doesn't calm down so I warn her that I am hanging up and then do. 

Poverty's cycle; how it starts, how it presents itself, and how it continues, is a wheel that spins out of control. It tries to drag others in to gain momentum. It's complex and it's ugly and it needs to be stopped in its tracks.


K. said...

Considering that their prenatal care was likely not of a high standard, too many of them have been up against it before they were born.

Molly The Dog said...

Thanks for your comment, K. That's so very true.