Do me a favor and read this email I had to write today. You won’t need any context.
I’m not just imagining that this is fucked up, right? A caregiver arguing with, belittling, and insulting a patient — perhaps solely because of a difference of opinion? Yeah, that’s pretty fucked up. And irresponsible. And scary.
I just used “scary” to define my place of healthcare. That’s not good.
We’re all well aware of the divisiveness of the times in which we live. The expressions of our polarized ideologies are becoming increasingly more personal, vitriolic, nasty. Embarrassingly, an exchange like this one would be considered mild if it happened on Facebook; on Twitter, it would have been the nicest thing you read all day.
But it didn’t happen on Facebook. It happened in the real world — in a fucking hospital.
To their credit, the institute emailed me back swiftly with an apology and a promise that they “will definitely be investigating it.”
But they shouldn’t have to investigate it. They shouldn’t have had to write me an apology, and I shouldn’t have had to email them in the first place, because this guy should never have said these things to or about that woman. His blatant disregard for manners and decency has troubled me all day.
Look, I get it. We’re all going nuts because shit’s getting real in the world. People are being bombed and shot and alliances are changing and Brexit’s happening and the U.S. gets a new kind of president on Friday and is Russia a problem? and the list doesn’t end. For better or worse, this turmoil has resulted in more people having strong opinions on where they stand and what they want.
That’s great and all. But what is your opinion worth if you don’t value another’s? Why should someone listen to you if you won’t grant her the same audience?
Stomping our feet and bitching with our like-minded pals does nothing to change the thing we bitch about most: that we don’t understand the other side. The only way to do that, of course, is to listen. But in order to listen, you first have to be able to stand the presence of someone who doesn’t agree with you. The therapist from this morning — a person whose job is to help people by listening to them — couldn’t even do that.
Where does that leave the rest of us?
I fear that if this meanness can make its way into a medical office, we need far more help than any physical therapist can provide. Let’s just hope the surgeon doesn’t walk out on us, too.