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Archive for April, 2010

On a Serious Tip

I only got 2 posts in before I got serious, I know.  It’s just my inner nerd pushed his inner glasses up his inner nose. Yes, my inner nerd is a man. No, I don’t know why.  I went to a lunchtime lecture about What To Do if Your Patient Disagrees With You, which I was hoping would have tips on winning thumb wars and staring contests, but it turned out to be all about death.

How do you convince someone they are going to die and you can’t help them? The good doctors found that explaining how busy they were a most helpful intervention. I’ve come up with some potentially quicker suggestions.  Comments and additions are welcomed.

“I agree that you might not die from this.  You might walk out the door and get hit by a bus first.”
“If you’re not ready to give up hope yet, I hear they’re making great strides in the field of cryogenics.”
“I am prepared to offer you a treatment that is just as likely to prolong your life as invasive surgery. It involves me borrowing a nickel from you every day and planting it in the ground. Then we take the leaves of the nickel tree and make a body butter.”

Sounds good, right? Except that I’m not a complete ass. Who really wants to waste a dying person’s precious moments with argument? But then, your patient wouldn’t know how important his moments are if you can’t convince him of their explicit finiteness. Maybe it would be better to write a prescription for the funnest drugs possible and tell him to do whatever he likes, but make sure to let the sun shine on his face all day.

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“Normal American” is not your race, ma’am.  You cannot identify as that.

Especially if you mean “white.”   But great example of how race works in the states.  My students will thank you.  They are, after all, our future.

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We are not born knowing.

Long have I held that repetition is the key to learning.  Repetition.  It’s the key to learning.  Learning.  But you, my good lady, may be ready to disabuse me of that notion.  This must be the fifth time today you have called me to tell me of your poop.  And how it’s not coming out.  And I am running out of ways to tell you the same thing again and again.  I do believe that your altered sewer system has made you “shy of bowel”.  I believe you, I do, and yet I think your disdain for water, fiber, and laxatives also contribute.  I have outlined this whole metaphor where your bowels are like this membrane that is permeable to water… wait, that’s not a metaphor, it’s an actual-phor.  I have also outlined a plan for you, wherein you hang up the phone, walk to your door, open it, and purchase some Miralax.  Then you find a working potty and let the magic happen.  It has miracle in the name, for the love of all that is holy!

But hope springs eternal – perhaps we can find some common ground.  I agree with you that bad plumbing is bad, and better plumbing would be better.  Yet despite your extremely detailed and accurate descriptions of where you think the septic tank went wrong, I must reiterate: I am a nurse, not a plumber.  I nurse, but do not plumb?  I plumb not, lest I be plumbed?

Let me transfer you to our social worker.

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“I hate my new neighbors because they are black.”

“Wow, that’s very racist of you.”

“But I’M not racist.”

“Oh, well that’s good!  So, then why do you hate your neighbors?”

“They’re all gangsters and criminals!  They listen to gangster rap and it’s too loud.”

“Wow, that’s very much a sweeping generalization about a group of people based on one shared characteristic for someone who isn’t racist to make. Have you ever – well, I don’t know, maybe – thought about asking them to turn it down?”

“Of course not!  Do you think I want to get shot?”

“Oh, right, because they’re all gangsters.  So you’ll never get to know them because you’re scared of them because they’re gangsters because they’re black because…. I guess I’m just still trying to figure out…. Can you tell me again how that doesn’t make you racist?”

“I once had a black boyfriend!”

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Dear sir, I understand that you deeply disapprove of my career choice.  Your recent tirade has indicated to me that perhaps this has to do with your former girlfriend and the way in which she became that way.

It warms my heart that you could care so much about a relative stranger such as I that you would take time to tell me of my mistakes at length now, at our friend’s first solo art exhibit.  You are putting in the extra effort as a human being and I salute you for it.

You could be chatting with your other friends or even the artist’s parents (who drove across the country for this very event).  You could be drinking the wine or perhaps looking at the art.  Instead, you have opted to explain to me that I will never acquire employment in my chosen profession, which you have, it seems, heard of.  Though I have been slow to come around, you have patiently repeated your point several times in clear English.

When, this most recent time that you clearly and cogently expressed your point, I simply thanked you and called you “mom,” I was attempting to end the conversation.   I apologize for stopping you in the midst of a topic you clearly have so much to give to.  If you would like to continue perhaps we could take it, as they say, outside?

Sincerely,

E. A. Reddy

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Sir, I understand that you hold the opinion that I should have a business card.  Respectfully, I must disagree.  While I enjoy my position at this organization, the truth of the matter is that people do not so much attempt to call me as fail to avoid my calls.  Also, I am quitting in a few short months.

The fact that you yourself have a business card seems of questionable value to me.  It is possible that fewer people would be interested in getting in touch with you than with me.  But thank you for its gift.  I will treasure it.

Sincerely,

E. A. Reddy

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