I didn’t really – I am not ill and I didn’t have to change my name into a unit number and date of birth, in fact, I was nowhere near a hospital – I was at Manchester Airport en route to Jonkoping, the Person-centred, industrial city in the South of Sweden.
I didn’t have to discuss my allergies, maladies or family history; I didn’t even need to undress – well, not altogether.
And that is possibly where the similarity began; as I passed through the security control, I could feel myself changing; from Rod – the traveller, the person heading-out to do new and exciting things, into, Rod, the passenger.
I don’t mean to say that this is the same as the transformation that happens to people as they become patients, I think however there are some common features.
As I moved through the automatic doors, passport screening barriers and digital cameras, I could feel myself changing – the balance of power shifting, from me as an individual, to me as part of a process, or likely, a pathway.
Uncertainty, translated into anxiety as to which liquids I could transport, what to leave in my pockets, what to take-out; In case anyone is wondering, I am not what you would call a seasoned traveller – I haven’t been on a plane in over two years and each time, I go through the process, usually in the security section, of convincing myself that I have done something wrong, that I will be caught for overstepping some smugglers’ taboo.
The undressing fortunately was just taking off my belt – I didn’t have to remove my shoes, thanks to new trainers.
My anxiety levels peaked when my case was detoured to the inspector’s aisle – ‘What had I missed?’ ‘Did I leave my pen-knife attached to my key-ring? Nail-clippers? Matches? Axe?’ And so on.
Fortunately the security guys only found a non-plastic-bagged deodorant and the punishment was only embarrassment; I was pleased that they were not checking my blood pressure or heart rate at the time, as they would likely have both been confident of the illegality of my thoughts as well as, had they been clinicians, potentially wanted to start me on both beta-blockers and ace-inhibitors.
The rest of the journey went without a hitch, although I had to hand-over my Diet Sprite to another set of security in Frankfurt (along with my unopened bottle of Evian), but at least I survived, arrived on time, no baggage lost.
What can we learn from this healthcare/border control comparison? Probably not a great deal, although, it was a useful lesson on the experience of being a patient, being a passenger through a pathway, allowing me a moment to reflect on the psychological and physiological stressors some of my patients experience when I approach them with my stethoscope, tendon hammer or heaven forbid, urinary catheter…
Featured image by Piet van den Boog http://www.vandenboog.com
Copyright © Rod Kersh 2016