I went to the dentist today. Going to the dentist doesn’t bother me. At times I have even found it to be relaxing. I’ve even almost fallen asleep.
Today was no different, really. I laid there, my mouth wide open. People had their hands and tools in my mouth.
Then I started thinking.
These thoughts were triggered by a patient I had recently who has some mental disabilities. We suctioned his mouth and explained why. “Oh” he had said, “like the dentist”. “Yes”, I smiled, “like the dentist”.
So, there I was, laying in that chair, with peoples hands in my mouth and all of a sudden I realized how little control I had over what was going on to my body, of what people were doing to me.
Relax? Everything’s fine? My hands are tied down, there’s a tube in my lungs, I can’t breathe, I’m scared and you want me to relax?
I’ve never really been in the hospital. I’ve never been the patient. I don’t know what it’s like to sleep in a hospital bed or wear that ugly gown. I don’t know what it’s like to have a foley in my urethra or stickers on my chest or a probe on my finger. I don’t know what it’s like to be inubated. I don’t know what it’s like to have an arterial line placed, a central line placed, a PICC line. I don’t know what it’s like to experience the things that I do to people all the time. I don’t know what it’s like to lay in that bed.
But I know what it’s like to lay in that chair. And as I laid there today with those hands and tools in my mouth, swalloing with my mouth wide open, aware of my surooundings but not being involved with them, I started to think about what it must be like to be intubated.
Truth be told, I don’t want to know what it’s like to be intubated, to wear that gown, to lay in that bed. But I do want to relate to those patients, those people whose mouth my hands are in.