Another milestone! Today was the last of my daily visits to the medical center Infusion Clinic. Now you may have noticed that I laughingly referred to this place as the “Confusion Clinic”–but it’s far from that. If anything, the Confusion Clinic is just the opposite, and it’s yet another pocket of really caring, competent people making life better for the rest of us.
At Munson, the Infusion Clinic is a separate facility where people are given (you guessed it!) infusions. The interesting part is why patients are there. Some, like me, are being given treatments of antibiotics. Some are receiving chemotherapy. Still others need a quick blood transfusion without spending the night at the hospital.
And then there are the children. Once a month on Fridays parents and children flock to the clinic for therapy, a partnering program with DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids. That’s why, when you enter the Clinic, the first thing you see are boxes of toys and children’s books. There’s a a large, blue-feathered dream catcher in the corner, fluttering with every draft of unseen air. There’s a huge TV, an unfinished jigsaw puzzle on the table, and a table of magazines and books.
In the waiting room, patients are knitting, reading, checking materials in their briefcases, and watching Regis and Whoeverhisnewpartner is. A few sit staring dully at nothing. And if it’s a Children’s Friday, the activity level (and noise level) is pretty high.
Behind the Waiting Room doors is the facility itself, which consists of a dozen lounge chairs, many positioned so that the occupant can look out the window to green grass and (at last!) fat robins and budding leaves. There’s coffee, juice, cold sodas and—at lunch time—boxed meals for those who must spend the day at the facility.
Because, you see, Infusion Clinics are serious business. I saw one of my former staff members here on Friday, looking bemusedly at all the children who were giggling and calling out to one another, even after they got tethered to the pump which delivered their important medications. Bill comes to the Clinic monthly to receive his chemotherapy, and the process takes him the whole day. He comes in with his laptop computer, several books, and his Ipod and headphones. It’s a day when he can catch up on work and be virtually inaccessible and relaxed.
I’ve been going to the clinic 7 days a week, usually the first thing in the morning (at 8 AM) for over 4 weeks now. I’ve really come to appreciate the service it provides, and even more—the staff. All through the last 6 months, I have discovered little pockets of committed caregivers, people who work in hospitals, nursing homes, physical therapy, and pharmacies. It’s a side of humanity I have come to appreciate, even cherish. In Eleuthera, they do what is called ‘pocket farming.’ On an island which is basically coral reef, there are little ‘pockets’ where soil and rainwater collect, and the enterprising islanders use these depressions to plant crops and fruit trees. Of course it may be inefficient farming as we Americans know it, but it is a way of producing much-needed food in these fertile and sheltered places.
So it is with the Infusion Clinic: in a hospital complex which is, by definition, pristine and sterile, there is this little oasis of warmth and comfort and friendly clutter. Today was my last day there: I go to surgery tomorrow (Tuesday, April 29) and my time on antibiotics will be limited. I will miss the Ladies of Confusion.