Face to interface – a techno-world nightmare

Face to Face

Lately at the local blood clinic – not a place that dispenses blood, but one that tests it – I got a taste of the nightmare I was trying to describe yesterday.  The clinic is staffed by nurse practitioners, no doctors are visible; the nurses test the clients’ blood for levels of blood thinners.  Ten years ago, when I had a blood clot or two in my leg I was in the hospital as I was in November with clots in my lungs.  Both times I was given a blood thinner and as soon as the level of the thinner in my blood reached the therapeutic level I was sent home.  Ten years ago I saw a doctor twice afterwards, the second time after three months he took me off the thinner; he may have tested my blood, but I don’t remember him doing so.  It was pretty causal and not very scientific, the doctor was however a very nice man and genuinely interested in my health.  It is very different now and very scientific and technical.   I go regularly, once a month at the moment, for tests; they monitor the thinner levels very carefully and adjust my dosage accordingly.  They use a very up-to-date computer program, they input my blood test results and my previous dosage and the program tells the nurse what my dosage should be until my next visit.

The appoints are made with the clinic, not with an individual nurse practitioner; there are three or four practitioners in the clinic and it is a potluck system, the patient/client gets whichever nurse is available.  Only one of the nurses is a man, the rest are women between 35 and 65 years old with greatly varying background, experience and bedside manners.  I like the man best because he knows me and we talk about exercise and life.  None of the women recognize me or talk to me as to a person; I am simply a name in a folder and a file on the computer, but the last time was the worse.

The nurse was young, 35-ish and pretty, heels, jewelry and just the right amount of makeup – but no personality.  Every time when  a nurse is ready to take the next patient they enter the little office space in the waiting room, pick up a folder and then read the name out loud.  When the patient stands up and moves toward them, the nurse usually says hello and then turns and walks down the hall to her/his cubical, expecting the patient to follow, rather like an obedient puppy.  The hottie in heels followed the script, but missing from the folder was a schedule document, one of clerks followed her and handed her the document; the nurse then said, “oh here is Mr. Adams.”  I disagreed with her and said what she had in her hand was a piece of paper, not a person and that in fact the person was walking behind her.  I was with her for about 30 minutes getting my blood tested, having my pulse, blood pressure and blood oxygen levels measured – never once did she look at me or speak directly to me.  The entire time, from when she picked up the folder and read my name until she return me and my folder to the office, she either talked to a piece of paper or the computer screen, but never to me.

You see, the technology was driving the entire process, neither of us was real, we just provided the data for input – and then the computer told her what to say to me; she printed out a very correct and complete schedule of dosage for me to follow until the next visit.  Had I fallen down dead in the waiting room after she handed back to folder to the clerk, she would not have recognized the dead person at all.  Had I lived for a moment or two, lying on the floor staring up at her, I might have recognized her shoes, but not her face.   We were never face to face, we were face to interface.   Neither of us had face, we had an interface, a confluence of data in a techno-world.  I am so looking forward to my next appointment.


2 Responses to “Face to interface – a techno-world nightmare”

  1. 1 Bill Hanigan May 23, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    I had a good laugh when I read this ! I’ve twice been on blood thinners as a result of atrial fibrillation episodes. Both incidents required regular visits to a lab (every 2-3 days) to have my blood tested and my dosage regulated. I can picture your “hot” nurse simply ignoring your existence !

  2. 2 Ken Adams May 24, 2012 at 7:21 am

    And ignore me she did, but I am living today because of the the blood thinners and the indifferent face of science – she was cute

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