How Can 10 Metres and a Wheelchair Make So Much Difference?

Here’s another post written not by me but by Couch Turnip, who originally left it as a comment on the previous post ‘The Cult of MUS‘ (which was also written by her!)  As so often with the stuff she writes, I thought it deserved a wider audience. It seems to summarise very powerfully the shortfall in both logic and compassion which lies at the heart of MUS. I don’t know which it is hardest to comprehend: that those in authority should encourage this change in mindset or that those required to make this change should apparently be so willing to embrace it.

It’s hard to believe that the practice of medicine itself would be manipulated and used as a tool to cut costs, but that is unfortunately where we’re at now.

I had an experience last summer that will stick in my memory. The attitude of hospital staff towards someone I was accompanying seemed to change dramatically with their perception of the situation. When the (young adult) attendee was clearly unable to walk and was struggling to stand up then staff behaved in an exemplary manner towards them – they appeared caring and sympathetic, rushing to help and locating a wheelchair in a hospital where such basic equipment seemed in very short supply. But on wheeling the patient into a different department about 10 metres away, the attitude of the staff was noticeably different. Here the patient, now marginally less compromised on account of the wheelchair, was treated as if they were catastrophizing their situation and I, as the wheelchair pusher, was their facilitator or accomplice in this. When they were struggling to get out of the wheelchair for an examination/investigation, I was told to get them to hurry up and move. When I slightly raised my voice in indignation, a security prescence appeared at the door. How can 10metres and a wheelchair make so much difference?

Whatever happened to real compassionate care? What happened to believing the patient and taking their symptoms and situation at face value rather than reading all sorts of pseudo-psychology into it? What exactly are they teaching medical staff about patient management these days? I shudder to think.

Since Couch Turnip wrote the above, the case has emerged of Gigi, a young woman with ME who is being kept in a psychiatric ward against her own and her parents’ wishes. ME rather than MUS, but you might call it more of the same. You could call it ‘institutional disbelief’.

By the way, Couch Turnip didn’t leave the only comment on the previous post. There was also a very good one from gildedcage, also well worth a look.