Do you know who Crabby McCrab is? How about Jerky McJerk? Let me describe this person to you as I’m sure all of you have met both of them…. or one of them at the very least.

Have you ever been in the hospital, sick as a dog, only to have some wretched, “i-hate-my-life-and-my-job” nurse treat you like a piece of trash?

Have you ever been too ill to go to work for a good number of days? Then your boss calls you up demanding an explanation because the fact that you have Lupus and you’re not feeling well simply isn’t “good enough”?

Yup, I’m sure we all know these people because they exist in our lives. They’re people who are angry at something or someone (not you) and they take it out on you. They’re people who don’t understand the plight of a person with Lupus. Oddly enough, many of these people who don’t understand the plight of a person who is ill are actually hospital workers themselves. Wrong career much?

I could share many a story of my encounters with angry or insensitive people. I mean, I could discuss the nurse who overdosed me on cyclophosphamide causing me to go into seizures and nearly bite my tongue completely off……but that’s different. She wasn’t trying to be malicious….she simply wasn’t paying attention to the doctor’s orders. The doctor saw that I was reacting badly to the cyclophosphamide so he turned it off. This nurse came in, saw it was off, and decided to not only turn it back on, but to turn it onto full blast to make up for lost time. But no, that’s not what this paticular post is about.

The time when I got so sick that I couldn’t walk or move my legs really showed me the definition of vulnerability. I could do NOTHING by myself. Even reaching over to change the channel of my mini tv was a chore. I had to tell the people who called me to not hang up if the phone rang several times. It didn’t mean I wasn’t there, it was just REALLY hard to lift the phone to my face.

A couple of situations occured while I was in the hospital around that time. It was my worst hospitalization yet. First of all, I was on 60mg of prednisone a day. And you know what that means….late night munchies! Now being hungry while in the hospital is hard enough. Imagine being hungry in the hospital but not being able to throw on your slippers and go downstairs to the Tim Hortons and get yourself some timbits? At any rate, it was the middle of the night so I wouldn’t have been able to do that anyways. Before my parents left that night to go home, they left me a mini box of cereal and a mini carton of milk. Opening the box and the milk and pouring them into the cup I was using as a bowl was extremely difficult. Eating my cereal with a spoon was nearly impossible…but I managed to eat about 1/3 of it by myself. When I couldn’t do it anymore, I pushed my call bell so that I could ask a nurse to help me with the last few bites.

A nurse came in and asked me what I needed. I told her that I couldn’t finish my last few bites of cereal, so if she could be so kind as to help me out. No word of a lie, she said to me:
“You want me to feed you? You can’t feed yourself? You’re so lazy!”. It seems like something someone else tells you happened to them….but I never imagined hearing someone say that to me. Did she not know that I could barely move? She did feed me the rest of my cereal as I tried to hide the fact that I was sobbing. It didn’t work out very well. It was about 12:30am by that time. I called home to speak to my Dad after the nurse left. I cried and cried and cried into the phone. My dad listened. He made me feel better.

A few days later, it was night time once again. Not being able to pull myself up in my bed, it wasn’t uncommon for me to slide down in my bed and need to be pulled up by the nurses. On that particular night, two nurses came in to pull me up in the bed. After a 3 count, they both pulled me up in the bed so roughly and violently, they smashed my head into the headboard. I tried to reach up for my head but could barely move my arms. “Owwwww….” I said, a mixture of a yell and a cry. They both quickly left the room, never looking back. I sat there quietly in the room by myself, crying. Not only crying because I just got my head smacked into a hard object, but also the idea of being in the hospital, being paralyzed, and not being able to do a damned thing about it. Once again, I reached for my phone. Called Daddy. Cried.

You’d think I’d suffered enough during this visit. Not quite. On one thursday afternoon, it was time for me to go down to dialysis. When I got there, a nurse came and tried to put the needles in my arm. She wasn’t getting it in the right spot. She poked and she shoved and she repositioned, all the while I was crying and screaming, squeezing the hand of one of the hemodialysis assistants named Eddie. Finally another nurse came along and decided that she would try. The act of her poking and stabbing at the fistula in my arm was even worse than the last nurse. I continued to cry out and scream while Eddie held firmly onto my other hand and watched in horror. Eventually, Eddie called out to another nurse. That nurse came along and made one slight adjustment. She then told the 2nd nurse who tried to put my needle in “Um, you had it in all along, all you had to do was pull back the syringe to see if it was in”. Then nurse number 2 said “OH! I had it in the whole time! HAHAHAHAHAHA!”

Laughing. The sound of her laughter felt like flaming daggers dipped in acid piercing into my heart. How could she sit there and laugh when she saw me crying so hard I could hardly breathe? When I regained the ability to use my hands, I used these hands to type a letter of complaint and I gave it to that nurses’ manger. They were both “spoken” to, and neither ever touched me or my fistula ever again.

This topic came to my mind as I had a run in with a crabby nurse today. I understand that sometimes people might be having a bad day, but this nurse is crabby ALL the time. For crying out loud, I have bad days too. But I work in customer service and all I do is speak to customers. I can’t just take my anger out on other people…it’s simply not their fault. In my opinion, if anyone has a reason to be indefinitely crabby, it would be me and other people dealing with an illness.

I choose not to. It might sound a bit cliche, but life is way too short to spend you life being miserable. If you don’t like something in your life and it’s within you control to change it, then change it! If you can’t change it, then you had better make the best of it and not sit around feeling sorry for yourself 24/7. Seriously, it’s ok to be sad, or down…or even crabby. But sheesh, don’t make it your mission to be a sourpuss for every waking hour of the day.

My Dad shared some words of wisdom with me and I always keep it in mind:

What you can’t change, don’t let it change you.

2 comments on “Crabby McCrab & Jerky McJerk

  1. Hi,I know exactly what you’re talking about when it comes to awful medical personnel. Night and overnight nurses at every hospital I have been to seem to be like overpaid babysitters, unable or unwilling to do anything of merit.I really felt for you when the nurse laughed. That’s ridiculous and downright cruel. I’m afraid this problem is going to get worse in our country as the health industry continues to grow and there are fewer qualified individuals to fill the openings.Take care and good luck.Stacy…


  2. I worked 18yrs in cust serv—feel just like you do. I hear so many bad nurse and DR. stories it makes me…so furious. One nurse took a dirty rusty POCKET KNIFE out to shove the blood back into my vien from an IV tube. I was just out of urgery and couldn’t yell at her, but lodged complaint when I could. One old lady DIED across from my hosp room when no nurse would answer her bell. It rang and rang, I was too weak to speak. The next day her family cried and shouted, “WHAT HAPPENED? MOM WAS FINE YESTERDAY” I wanted so desperately to tell them…haunts me. I hope Karma gets those people who did you wrong, the old lady and me.


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