Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Hi, Carolyn: I have to have a non-emergency but necessary medical procedure (think colonoscopy). The facility will not admit me for the procedure unless I am accompanied by someone who will be there for the duration of the procedure and drive me home. I cannot take a cab home, and I cannot arrange for someone to pick me up when I’m ready to go.
I’m not married, I don’t have kids or other family who could take me, and although I have good friends, there are none I feel comfortable asking to take a day off work to sit in an office waiting room with me. So I’ve repeatedly had to delay the appointment.
What do people like me do in this situation? I have a chronic medical condition, and I’m suddenly very depressed that I have to go through life wondering who is going to take me to my various appointments. I realize this is a silly logistical question, but it’s really triggered some profound feelings of loneliness and fear.
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I don’t think this is silly at all, and I also believe it’s more common than you may realize. Solo adults make up a larger percentage of the U.S. population than ever before. That means issues like this are the new normal.
I don’t know if you’ve gone back to the facility to ask what they recommend for patients with your circumstances, but that’s where I’d start. You will receive anesthesia, so you must have someone there to be responsible for you. This can be a professional sitter or patient escort, presumably; ask the hospital booking staff to give you names of agencies.
I’m making these suggestions because you seem to prefer doing this on your own. However, I think asking a friend might come to be the better option, and not because of red tape. For one thing, there might be someone among your friends who is in a similar position and would be grateful to have a reciprocal agreement with you. Even people who supposedly have a spouse or family to lean on might not want to – say, because X asks too many questions or Y gets anxious around doctors or Z will broadcast your private medical business across the entire time zone. Establishing a mutual go-to could spare you not just this time, but also from the general despair you’re feeling of having to rethink this every time.
And, too, people often have a backward understanding of asking favors, including yours truly. We worry it’s an imposition to ask, but sometimes, especially from someone normally independent, asking is actually a gift. Have you ever had a friend trust you with something big, and felt flattered to be asked? And/or grateful for the chance to show this person you care? That could be what you offer here. Trusting someone with your vulnerability can help can bring the friend you choose (carefully, of course) a notch closer to you – especially if you’re able to return this level of favor for him or her.
I hope this helps, and good luck.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.