Same goes for the phlebotomists. The same three women have been drawing my blood for these three plus years and they not only know my name, they know my children's names and my husband's name. I know their names and their children's names. We are genuinely interested in each others' lives.
However, they hate drawing my blood. Sometimes, it can be easy, but other times, it's quite difficult. Even though I now have a port, it's much quicker for me to get a venipuncture draw in the lab for quicker processing of the blood rather than going to the infusion center, accessing the port, waiting for results, etc.
Tatiana and Betty tried four times today and Tatiana was in tears. She kept apologizing and said, "If we don't get this on the next try, we're going to have to send you upstairs." I reassured them that it was all good and that I understood it wasn't their fault. They were able to access the next time and the processing began.
Before that, though, Tatiana noticed how pale I was. I told her I was getting a transfusion today and that I was very tired. Tatiana, originally from the Ukraine, told me that when she felt tired, she ate caviar and that it never failed to give her energy.
In spite of working in a medical setting, she wants an easy fix for me. She has seen me do well most of the time she's known me and I know she forgets that I'm not coming in for maintenance checks, but for treatment. She genuinely cares for me.
The cashier in the cafeteria cares for me, too. While I don't know her name (and she doesn't know mine), we do talk each time I buy my Coke Zero there. She may think I work at the clinic and may not know I'm a patient. When we exchanged greetings and in response to the "How are you, today?" question, I replied, "I've had better days."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. You really need to be positive. If you focus only on how you are feeling sick, you will never get better and you will remain sick."
I could get frustrated over these comments. Caviar and thinking positive has zero impact on anemia and cancer, but you know what? I understood what was being said.
As a second language speaker (Mandarin Chinese), I understand how easy it is to say the wrong thing by using incorrect words or wrong grammar, etc. However, as a second language teacher, I also understand how important it is to look at the big picture context of what is being said and to understand the meaning without nitpicking each and every word.
I took these comments for exactly what they were intended to be.
"I am so sorry you are getting worse and it hurts me to see you this way. I want you to get better and maybe these suggestions will help. I love you."
I felt the love. Maybe later today, I'll try some caviar. I've never had it before!