I write about what it takes for us -- whether we are sick or well -- to find and make good use of health care today. At the end of September I was hospitalized for surgery to remove a tumor in my stomach. Below is one in a series of five observations about my experiences since then.
Three times a day, as though responding to some signal audible only to the generously medicated, we rise from our beds to join the slow procession around the perimeter of the unit. Like slumped, disheveled royalty, each of us blearily leads our retinue of anxious loved ones who push our IV poles, bear sweaters to ward off the harsh air conditioning and hover to prevent stumbles. Some make eye contact. Few talk. Each of us is absorbed in our suffering and our longing to return to our bed
I find this experience strangely moving.
Despite the nausea, dizziness and enough mind-altering drugs to fell a horse, so many of us fight our way to consciousness, creakily right ourselves and step out of our rooms to join the others. At that moment we are able to say I'll do the one thing they say might help me get better, taking one painstaking step after the next the height of our ambition meets the limits of our abilities ' to resume the life we left behind when we entered the hospital.
This is one glimpse of what it means to be engaged in our health care.