This is Customer Service? or “Don’t Try Explaining Why My Complaint Isn’t Valid”

A simple, ” I’m sorry you had that experience.  Maybe  a reminder to really listen is a good idea.  I’ll bring it up…[insert whatever here]. ”  That’s all it takes, whether or not you mean it.

Instead, this sort of thing happens:

Being in the Over 50 Club means many things.  One of them is the opportunity for fun-filled medical screening procedures.  In this instance, a colonoscopy.  Yup, a truly invasive procedure.  Now, my husband had his several years ago and remembers not one single thing from start to finish.  In fact, he was a little “loopy” when he came out of the procedure, lucid but a bit more happy than is normal for him.

That’s the experience I was expecting today.  I told the nurse who did my intake that I did not want to be present for the procedure.  Told the nurse who said, “Watching on the monitor is pretty interesting, it looks like the inside of your mouth,”  “I have absolutely no interest in seeing it.”  The doctor said, “We’ll get you into the procedure room, sedate you, and get started.”  To which I replied, “That’s the most important part to me.  The sedation.  And the results.  Two things important to me, sedation and results.”

Once in the procedure room,  I again indicated to the doc that I wanted to be as oblivious as possible.  He said, “Oh, you’ll breeze right through this.”

He couldn’t have been more wrong.

I know my pain response, I know my body, and I know the medical things I’m willing….and unwilling….to endure.  Once the procedure started I could feel the advancing of the scope up my intestinal tract and I said, “No, no, stop, please, give me a minute….”  It hurt.  And they had to give me more sedation.

When it was over, I was angry.  I was angry that no one listened to me.  I was angry that I’d been hurt.  And I made a call to make a complaint.  Not about the nurses, they were great, helpful and compassionate for the most part, as nurses are.

The response to my complaint was an explanation that “…90% of the people are just fine with a low level of sedation and there are people who even go through it with no sedation at all.  That they begin with a little and see how it goes.”  I told her that I know my own pain response and I’d TOLD them I did NOT want to be aware at all during this procedure.  That it hurt and that was unnecessary.  I got the “explanation” again.  She asked if I wanted to speak to the doctor and have him explain how it might have been that I had “some discomfort.”

At this point, I felt as if yet another person wasn’t listening to me.  It wasn’t “some discomfort.”  It hurt.  And I’d told them from the beginning that I didn’t want any awareness of the procedure at all.   In my view, the reason I had the experience was they didn’t listen to me from the start.  Not that 90% of people blahblahblah…NO ONE listened to the patient who knows her body best.   I told her talking to the doctor wouldn’t change the experience I had and thank you for taking my call, have a nice day…and at this point I was crying.

She rushed to keep me on the line.  “I’m really sorry you had that experience.  What do you think could have been different?”  I sobbed out, “Just LISTEN to your patient.  That’s all.  Just listen to them.”

The conversation yielded some good information, though.  The nurse manager told me that the facility where my husband had his procedure uses a “deeper sedation.”

Now I know, and I share it with you:  This is a truly invasive procedure and facilities use different types and “depths” of sedation.   Make sure you know the level of sedation you want, and make sure the caregivers at the facility are willing to provide it from the start.   You have a right not to suffer!

Just as important to me? You have a right to be heard.  So does your complaint, if you need to make one.

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