Sunday, November 12, 2017

20 Things About Being Sick at Twenty

You meander your way into the doctor's office. It appears there is a long wait. The doctor is running behind, as always, and his staff is in no hurry to conclude their lunch break. You take a seat next to a frail old woman whose walker displays tennis ball decor. She is in the process of filling out paperwork. Although 60 years your senior, you notice that her symptom list is less extensive than your own. You feel slightly out of place, but after taking out your knitting, you receive an approving nod.

Your next scheduled appointment is with your long established pediatric primary physician that has agreed to continue seeing you until age 21. That appointment also entails lots of waiting. Surrounded by a room elaborately done in an ocean scene, it seems you have even less in common with the fellow patients. One toddler wails at the fish painted on the wall, while another wobbles to the toy box, a nervous parent trailing closely at its heels

The twenties are awkward. And when chronic illness is involved, we become the clumsy teenagers of the medical world never truly belonging in pediatric or adult care as we attempt to live up to the expectations dictated by age.

There are struggles undoubtedly unique to navigating the medical system in the decade of the twenties. So, here are 20 things about being sick at twenty: 

1. You are considered too old to be sick, others claiming that you should have "grown out" of your chronic illness by now.

2. Yet, you are also considered too young to have so many health problems.

3. You cannot possibly have life threatening conditions since you are not geriatric.

4. Medical professionals no longer put in as much effort to do investigative testing.

5. Nor are they as willing to be aggressive with treatments.

6. You miss having one doctor for everything.

7. Doctors always ask what your occupation is.

8. Judging by their eye roll, professional patient is not a sufficient answer.

9. You fear you will never be well enough to hold down a real job.

10. Emergency room nurses have to hunt down pediatric equipment.

11. Nurses are impressed at your medical knowledge.

12. You no longer get offered stickers and lollipops at appointments.

13. The only alcohol you have had the opportunity to try is the alcohol based preservatives in medications.

14. Friends laugh because you are at the doctor more than their grandparents.

15. The "three poke rule" for placing IVs has been abandoned.

16. Sonogrophers and procedure techs mention that they have an easier day with clearer images when you're on the schedule compared to their older patients.

17. Paperwork. Paperwork. Paperwork.

18. You are not shown the same amount of compassion.

19. Medical decisions are solely you're responsibility.

20. You wish you could have remained 12 forever.

Chronic illness or not, the twenties are an amazing period in life. The changes that come from transitioning to adult care from pediatrics should not have to detract from the experience.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. - 1 Corinthians 13:11, NIV