"Do you have any lived experience with that?"
It seems to be one of those buzz-wordy things that is the hot term of the minute. To me, it means you're not only going to be regurgitating online research, but you have the personal knowledge to back it up and give whatever it is real depth.
As I've mentioned before, I've had some interesting "lived experiences," some of them even more wild (believe it or not) than being chased by an eel and assaulted by a turtle at a giant underwater party.
For example, while I worked in Botswana, I had an appendicitis. I was operated on in Gaborone and it was pretty [cuss word] wild.
Working with cheetahs in Africa has to be one of the coolest, most rewarding, most wonderful things I've ever had the pleasure of doing. Unfortunately, during my time there, my body decided to almost kill me because I was having too much fun.
Did you know that sometimes an appendicitis masks itself as hunger? Fact. I am thankful every day that my boss was a wilderness EMT and had the smarts to ask me where the pain was located. Turns out that lower-right quadrant pain has nothing to do with not eating enough.
When she realized where the pain was located, she very quickly brought me to the local clinic, where a nice doctor told us there was absolutely nothing he could do. There were no hospitals in the vicinity, and his most advanced piece of equipment was an X-ray. Diagnosing an appendicitis is more an elimination of other possibilities rather than one test that proves conclusively what's going on. It may be an ovarian cyst, he said, but he couldn't be sure without advanced imaging.
(Side story: he asked to take my temperature, and I popped the thermometer in my mouth without thinking about it. Turns out it was an armpit thermometer. Yum.)
Off we went to Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, often called "Gabs" for short, and checked in to the private hospital, which was where most of the expats went.
Botswana is a pretty progressive country, and all of its citizens receive free health care, paid for by the sale of diamonds from the Debswana mine. Unfortunately, I was not a citizen, and thus, I had to pay for any medical services up front. This becomes important later.
Seriously, I have never moved through an ER so quickly. There was about a two minute wait for an ultrasound, and once they were finished with that, maybe a five minute wait for a CAT scan. My blood draw was ridiculously efficient. As someone who has always been very accident-prone and has spent a fair amount of time in US emergency rooms, I can tell you that our hospitals could learn a thing or three hundred from Botswana's system.
My doctor, a lovely Zimbabwean man I still remember fondly, was kind and walked me through the whole process, reiterating what the clinic doctor had said: it was a process of elimination, and so far, because it wasn't anything else, it had to be an appendicitis. But, because they didn't want to jump the gun (and because I didn't have a lot of cash handy), they sent me home for the night to see how it developed. The pain wasn't any worse and I didn't have a fever, so I thought that was reasonable course of action.
Cue one of the most hilarious phone calls I've ever had in my life.
SCENE: [[hospital phone in Gabs, approx. 3 AM State-side]]
Mom: [groggy] ...herro...
Me: Hey mom! Listen, I'm about to tell you something and I need you not to panic. I'm fine, OK? Hear me out. Don't panic.
Mom: [nuclear explosion voice] WHAT IS HAPPENING ARE YOU DYING WHAT'S WRONG WHERE ARE YOU DO I NEED TO COME AND GET YOU WHAT'S HAPPENING
Me: Well, I'm in the capital and my boss and some doctors here think I need an appendectomy.
Me: And, because of the health care system here, well, I kind of need you to wire me, like $5,000 or so, right this very minute.
Mom: Oh my god. OH MY GOD. I can't believe this. Can you get on a plane? Come home! Come home right now!
[putting my boss on the phone]
Boss: Yeah, hey Mother Mullen, we discussed that with the doctor and he's not comfortable putting her on a plane. The shortest flight is still 17 hours to Atlanta, and he's concerned that it might burst before she'd get back, and, well, that wouldn't be good.
[I'm back on the phone]
Me: I'll be fine, mom! The doctor here is super nice. This is a great adventure! Haha!
Mom: ... I'm speechless. [Sounds of her getting up, putting on shoes] I'm going to Western Union right now.
(Side note: remember when I said that I have been incredibly privileged throughout my life? Here's a great example of it: if my mom hadn't been able to wire me that money, if she hadn't had access to it, I could very well be dead right now. I am literally ALIVE because of my privilege and advantages.)
So my mom went to Western Union, she wired my boss the money, and we went home to the project vet's house for the night. It was totally surreal, and while I had a slight fever in the morning and a tiny bit more pain, I wasn't convinced that this whole thing wasn't a figment of my imagination.
You can guess what happens next. I went back to the hospital in the morning, I had surgery (though the laparoscopy machine was broken, so they had to cut me open the old fashioned way), and the surgeon discovered my appendix was swollen to three times its normal size. A couple more hours and it would have burst. I have no idea why I wasn't in worse pain. Considering my state, the doctors were amazed I could walk around and talk.
When I woke up, there were six missionaries around my bed praying, and I was groggy enough that I was convinced I had died and this was the Heaven Welcome Wagon. It took me a few solid minutes for me to ask what was going on, and for them to explain I was actually alive.
I was in the hospital for a couple days, and when they finally released me, I had to go settle up my tab. Everything used for my care, from IV lines to temperature probe covers, to saline and pain killers and the surgeon's billable hours, were on that print out. It was easily six pages long, and the grand total was something like $3,300, which, compared to American surgery, is really a bargain.
I healed up just fine, went back out to the bush, and chased around some more cheetah. The best parts of that fiasco were telling people I had been mauled by a leopard, and that was why I had a mottled purple hole in my side, and taking out my stitches by myself, because I didn't want to go back to the clinic.
"Lived experience." Not sure how this particular story applies to those people who ask, "Do you have any lived experience with that?" Although... maybe in some ways, it's hyper-applicable. Do I have any experience managing high-stress situations where I'm under deadline? Well, yes, I guess in some ways I really, REALLY do. Am I able to prioritize tasks and stay organized? Um. Yes. Especially when things are very time-sensitive. Like life-or-death time sensitive. Can I keep a cool head in tense moments? Yeah, pretty sure I can.
"Lived experiences," ladies and gentlemen.