My mother is in her eighties and suffers from several health challenges. She can no longer make decisions for herself or think clearly. Yesterday, we spent another afternoon and evening in the emergency department of a local hospital with a nurse who was angry with the attending doc and who seemed to be angry in general. She especially seemed prone to becoming angry with anyone who might be in a decision-making (read powerful) position. I wonder whether that is a condition that has a diagnosis in the DSM IV—or is it DSM V at this point? Diagnosis: Prone to becoming angry with anyone perceived to be in a position of power, especially when patient is at work.
So basically, we ended up being in what would make great material for a documentary film about life in the emergency room and the effects that employee attitudes and power dynamics have on the delivery of health care to an African American woman in her eighties and her daughter who has responsibility for care management. Need I say that I was not pleased and that if I ever see this woman on the street, I'll have to refrain from sticking my foot out to intentionally trip her.
There is a certain arrogance that accompanies privilege. This arrogance can make it very difficult for one to communicate well and when one is in a service profession arrogance can be very dangerous. I know that 'effective communication' courses are taught in the health professions, I teach writing at a university that trains therapists and professional psychologists. However, I don't teach 'effective communication' and I know that taking a class does not transform ones conscious awareness of power dynamics and privilege, no matter what grade is achieved at the end of the course.
Yesterday, I advocated for my mother as best I could and I am still struck by the fact that when people don't get along and work collaboratively, others are affected negatively. It's a lot like second hand smoke and it can kill.
Causes Joyce Young Supports
VONA Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation, Hedgebrook, Vermont Studio Center, California Poets in the Schools, La Pena Cultural Center