Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Day 3 - Munchkins

On Monday and Tuesday I will always have appointments after treatment, but the rest of the week it should be smooth sailing unless something pops up when I check in in the morning. I don't even have to leave the level we park on. Today I was in-and-out in 30 minutes. Schweeeeet!

Johns Hopkins has a very efficient system for us. I have an orange "Hopkinscard" that I scan as soon as I get in the door of the Sidney Kimmel Building where everything takes place. The machine spits out a sheet of paper telling me each appointment I have for the day, where they are located, phone numbers at those departments, and a place at the bottom for my vital signs for the day in case I need them taken. I can then proceed to do my thing without worrying that I've forgotten to check in with so-and-so or they can slip in surprises like extra lab work if necessary. They won't call me at home, afraid I'll miss a message telling me to come in early or stay late for something important.

Hopefully the system works.

When my sheet said to see Mr.R in Registration on Tuesday - I put on my happy face even though I thought I wouldn't have to go up there that day. Some days computers are cranky, and Mr. R is one of the Munchkins (yup!) who has to kick his machine sometimes. That was the sad truth on Monday and Tuesday. He had a room full of people and a scanning machine that was just not happy. Between setting up folks for their visits and hauling his butt out of the room to reset the kiosk - Mr. R was lookin' low by the time he got to me. But he knows I'm patient and his smile is genuine for me. "You need liquids, get some water", I say. "I got tea" says he, and soon after he's slurping away and the raspiness I heard with the previous patient leaves his voice. We've done this a few times now, and the exchange is brief. Hand him my card, verify my birthdate, sign here . . . and tell him I appreciate everything he does.

"And keep drinking that tea now."

He laughs and says "You have a good one Ms. Martin.

Now I know saying things like have a good one and have a nice day just roll off the tongue for most folks. But I try to make people, especially employees who are just doing their jobs, feel they are not getting the remote control expression from me. Sometimes I hit it, sometimes I don't. With Mr R. I think drinking tea may be a connection between us, who can say. Something he can look forward to. To make him really smile when he sees my name pop up on his screen. Maybe he'll give a thought to what he'll say to the next person.

The Good Witch of the North called me today just to see how my first few days of treatment went. How many insurance companies have this service I wonder? Now that I'm safely underway, she'll be more in the background and we'll talk again around Thanksgiving, but I know I can call her anytime for anything. A big plus for me is she has a background in Oncology Nursing. We talked for about fifteen minutes about the last few days and my follow ups on a few things. Today when we finished I told her I had to go now. I'm fine now you see, Glinda - on my way down the yellow brick road and you should call another patient who needs you now - because you are good at what you do.

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