Editors note: Here is a letter that I just got from one of our fellow warriors who was recently admitted in the UK for a sickle cell crises. We all go through almost the same issues with regards to our treatment in the hospital, and yet very few people talk about it outside of their close family and friends. Osei is bravely sharing his story in the hopes that at least one med professional will see it, and change their practice.
You know, I always say, you don’t need to like me in order to treat me. Simple. You can give me my pain meds on time all the time and I will soon be out of your hair. I won’t make it difficult for you to treat me, I will be humble and considerate to your needs.
But I have run up on some dumb sh*t nurses in my time. One asking ‘are you in pain’ as I am writhing and tense, with tears rolling down my face, comes to mind. The time they asked this I was simply asking for Ibuprofen and Paracetemol-type meds, not even Morphine.
I’ve just recently come out of hospital (was in from Thursday 10th – 14th June). Not the best experience but not the worse. I was in a different hospital than my usual. A&E (ER) wasn’t too bad, but the ward after this – WOW – what a horrible experience. I was not given any priority. There were 6 other patients in my section, and to me I’m in the most pain. I’m writhing around on the bed, turning, half crying, and a black nurse doesn’t give me any priority. Alright it’s just her in her section, but simply taking the 5 minutes to see to me and help put me out of some of the pain, and return to her other ‘not so urgent patients’ would have been all she needed to do. Being in a crisis and at the mercy of the staff is not easy. You are in a high level of pain and cannot retaliate. You cannot state your case. You cannot stand up for yourself. Being at the mercy of staff you don’t want to upset them in any way, which then has you in their ‘bad books’, and any treatment given is harsh, hurried or done negatively, like they don’t want to do it.
The nurse in question didn’t respect Sickle Cell (even though she was a black nurse!), and was making stupid jokes. She was bullying and inappropriate. I was at this ward temporarily. Fortunately I got transferred and the other ward was much better. I was still in a lot of pain on the Thursday, but medicines were frequent and without question.
This situation isn’t uncommon. I once stated in my Minority Nurse interview that black nurses often treated sickle cell patients ‘worse’ than non-black nurse. The interviewer was very surprised, especially since sickle cell is considered a “Black” disease. There is still a long way that we have to go in raising awareness both in the public and even in the medical community.
One good tip is that you try to educate at least 1 nurse or doctor every hospital stay. If you are just changing the practice of that one person, by explaining what the disease is, and how debilitating the pain can be, then the next time they come across someone with sickle cell, they will treat them better. Let us not continue to be silent victims.