Giving Back To Your Parents: Your Kid Is Not Dead Or In Jail

It was quitting time and the end of a long string of exhaustive days, nothing would get in the way of my vegging out in front of the tube and watching my favorite television programs, then disaster hit President William Jefferson Clinton was honoring us with his presence shortly.  Crap, didn’t the President know I had a particularly trying day, didn’t he know I hadn’t brought my car to work so getting home late was an inconvenience, maybe I could look really miserable and beg off due to having the bug that was going around? But before I could get my well thought out excuses out of my mouth, I was greeted with more bad news, Bill Gates, Patti Murray, and other business and political luminaries would also be present. So when I was asked what I wanted I just said, “Oh, nothing”, realizing it would be useless to feign an illness, in fact I was starting to feel a little sick at the prospect of the evening ahead. I had a sudden revelation, I said to myself why suffer alone I can call Mom, at least give her the opportunity to see and be in the company of these Big Wigs. I called Mom who was delighted at the idea of attending this special event, gave instructions where to park and had a security guard escort her to my office, we had to line up with the administrators entering first followed by less important staff.

Mom was pleasant and stoic as usual and didn’t seem to mind the slow meandering line, especially since all the important people from work stopped by to pay their respects to her, and told her what a great important asset I was and how much they all appreciated me. Okay, here’s where the title comes into play, it should read “Your Kid Isn’t Drunk, Almost Dead, or in Jail”, which twenty-five years earlier was the usual dreaded phone call Mom would have been expecting. No employers or colleagues would have been praising me because I would have again been fired or quit another promising job, and in all likelihood the money I had used to become drunk and disorderly had been begged or stolen from her. In the beginning of my recovery I had taken some Assertiveness Training, Relapse Aversion, and Alcoholic Anonymous Open Meeting courses, and they all encouraged the healthy important step of Amends and Restitution.  I saw asking for forgiveness and truly forgiving myself, as a twofold step to reestablishing a pattern of honesty and a virtuous lifestyle, which in my case never existed but could be obtained. My new lifestyle meant I had to abstain from; Alcohol, Drugs, Riotous Living, Unhealthy Eating and Exercise practices, Smoking, Lustful Relationships, and Unforgiveness. My mentors and religious teachings encouraged me to do this in moderation or “One Day At A Time” as it says in the Bible, the sad fact that I was responsible for causing my mother and others pain and suffering for eleven and a half years, was only lessened by my earnest hard working efforts to actively become the kind of person I wished I had been or pretended to be (or not to be) publicly.

My aunts and cousins told me if I really wanted to give back to my mother I would attend church with her, they said “returning to the faith of your father’s”  would make her feel happy and blessed, and please her church peers who were devoutly praying for me and my  return to the church fellowship. It seemed a bit much to go back to a church that I had abandoned, besides I could do similar things in my twenty-fourth year of recovery that I believed equally showed my sincerity, it’s an old selfish alcoholic motto to, “give them what they need, not what they ask of you”. So almost twenty-five years into my recovery I’m moaning to my counselor about always upsetting my mother, that even if I’ve resolved an issue and succeeded, when I discuss it with my mother she becomes fearfully upset and critical. “Then why are you laying your problems on your mother, if you know in advance these things will upset her, why not try communicating with her about non-threatening topics?” At first I  initially judged that my counselor didn’t understand me or the situation, then I realized that he accurately saw my “sharing” with my mother as a habitual juvenile attention/ approval seeking behavior, which blocked true adult communication with someone I regarded as my superior. I stopped calling Mom to win her approval, and when temped to try and fix family problems she just happen to mention; I’d usually but with great difficulty no longer volunteered my services, instead wishing her and the family good luck on solving their problems.

Our telephone Mother and Son Talks became something we did every morning, noon, and bedtime, we talked about The Antiques Road Show TV Program and the British television series As Time Goes By, or PBS specials or marching parades which were on or scheduled in the future. At the end of each conversation we thanked each other and said, “I Love You”, and we began having regular Saturday evening dinners at her home, and eventually I surprised her by showing up at her church and becoming a regular Sunday member. There were times when I intervened in family matters of a dire nature, but I continued to have friendly conversations with my mother daily, and we showed our love and appreciation by voicing it and worshiping as family at our church.  The church eventually recruited me into the choir, ushering, running the sound system which I rebuilt into a modern Audio/Video system and teaching the New Member’s Class. My efforts meant Mom was showered in praise by her cronies, but sitting next to her each Sunday service became a rarity. Every so often a mother and father would appear at church with their son or daughter who was freshly into their recovery, and or had been recently released from incarceration, showing up in ill fitted clothing and embarrassed from all the loving attention we showered upon  them. I was thankful to see them because it was a reflection of my journey with my family, through hard times that I compounded with my negative behavior, and if I hadn’t accepted a new way of living and made earnest effort to turn my life around 38 years ago, then today I’d be either Drunk,  Dead or in Jail.

Do Not Much Harm

God does the Work, but we collect the fee. – Surgeons Motto

“Primum_Non_Nocere /First, Do No Harm”

I have a major concern about my present health care providers, after my last interaction with my Care Provider; I didn’t receive a Lollipop or piece of candy at the conclusion. I realized it was probably just an unfortunate mistake, but I was so looking forward to my sweet after the examination, which had been the custom my childhood G.P. Dr. Suzuki. Our 1950’s wonderful doctor with a kind yet professional face, who would arrive from his office on Jackson Street, carrying the ubiquitous black leather bag; full of medical devices, various and sundry potions, and candy to reward me for being his good patient. One might argue that it was sixty some years ago, with modern medicine having eliminated the need for general practitioners. At age 65 I can afford to and should buy my own lollipops.

True, it’s not the sweets or bedtime manners from my physicians I miss, but it is the feeling that I am being Cared For, by an; empathetic, sensitive, understanding, medical practitioner, whom would explain my prognosis and diagnosis in a simple but informative manner. If I visit a facility and am rushed through the procedures by busy people doing a “job” instead of “being of service”, I’m insulted having worked in the medical field, I can sense when I’m a being rushed along the assembly line. I would rather be considered an ailing patient, requesting the help and expertise from knowledgeable staff, whom are eager to help me in my time of need. I want my doctor to fully inform me on my present illness and how to approach cure, informed of our plan action like visiting the pharmacist and making a follow-up appointment to discuss how deal with or prevent future outbreaks. I believe if the communication between myself and my doctor is vague about going to the pharmacy or making other appointments; or failing to have the nursing assistant gave me precise  instructions noted in my records. This allows  their receptionist staff to help me schedule an appointment and insure I acquired my medication from the pharmacist. When I tried to tell the reception area I wasn’t certain how to proceed after my examination, they won’t looked at me puzzled at me,  thinking, “didn’t the doctor or her nurse give you that information already”?.

Of course The Lollipop is a metaphor for good and reasonable service when visiting a medical facility, I’ve done the back to back shifts in hospital wards full of patients, fully confident I’d be able to help All my patients, sadly by hour 16 my energy began flagging, and I was more concerned about finishing the additional 8 hours than serving my patients. Some facilities used ,to chart or secretly mark P.I.A. (Pain In The A_ _) on certain patients charts, if patients complain about their treatment or ask for some resolutions to their concerns, but calling a patient a rude or prerogative nickname can be considered libelous or violating patient rights. Getting a label as a bad patient usually doesn’t extend into patient care, but sometimes the there becomes a passive – aggressive attitude toward that person, and they can even become the source of derision,  sabotage,or needless banter.

I’m sending my care providers a copy of the William Hurt medical drama “The Doctor”, about a high profile surgeon who contracts cancer and becomes shocked, when he receives substandard treatment as a regular patient: misdiagnosis, given the wrong treatment regiments, left languishing on gurneys between testing, and talked to in a rude or condescending manner by help staff he formerly supervised. The problems aren’t as egregious as in the 1971 George C. Scott movie “The Hospital”, where  by staff causes constant harm to patients, who murderously strike back by misdiagnosing and wrongly charting staff selected to be mistaken for patients. Also I love this edifying historical and positive movie, about a gifted dedicated person willing to allow others to take credit for his medical genius, Something The Lord Made *  (movie below);is the description Dr. Alfred Blalock of Johns Hopkins, attributes to his Black surgical technician Vivian Thomas’  miraculous life saving inventions, for the cure of Blue Baby Syndrome.

So the Lollipop is that good feeling when patients believe they have been treated fairly, by medical staff that are caring thoughtful and informative, who relieve patients suffering and make them feel safe and secure. Not only do patients then feel positive should they have to reschedule a return visit, they will be confident their concerns will be professionally and helpfully addressed, and some youngster involved or watching these healing interactions may someday decide to  embrace the noble careers of Medical Assistance and Health Care.

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My favorite Medical Drama is  Kurosawa’s  1965  masterpiece Red Beard (on HULU+/Criterion) about a famous country doctor in 1825, mentoring a young imperial (Trailer) court doctor, who had been groomed for the highest honors but finds he has much more to learn.

Also a Sleeper I faithfully viewed on HULU was a 52 part Korean Television series called The Horse Doctor: The life of a Joseon-era low-class veterinarian raising to become The King’s  Personal Physician, but he is fought at every step of the way because he is an extraordinary talented doctor able to do surgery at a time when Traditional Korean  Medicine used standard potions and acupuncture, and invasive cutting surgery is unheard of and heretical.

* MOVIE: Something The Lord Has Made, story of Vivien Thomas

 The Hippocratic Oath Today

Some Established Healthcare Model Programs Which Effectively Serve Their Patients

Seattle’s Country Doctor A Positive Community Health Care Center Which Efficiently Serves It’s Community: http://www.countrydoctor.org/

Seattle Indian Health Board is a longtime admirable Community Health Institution: http://www.sihb.org/

45th Street Clinic in Seattle’s Wallingford District:medical, dental, and Street Kid’s Advocacy healthcare providers: http://www.neighborcare.org/clinics/neighborcare-health-45th-street

Every Witch Way

There I am at a Midwestern college school one of few Blacks attending, happy I wasn’t languishing at an alternative touchy feely West Coast institution or a pompous Ivy League bastion of entitlement and luxurious privilege, I was enjoying my nice safe bucolic environment devoid of any problems until I heard about the demonic witches plaguing my friend. My friend was a petite young blond blue eyed girl on her first adventure away from home, a naïve trusting 19 years old recently out of high school and had just quit her babysitting job, was far away from parental protection so the relentless predators descended  upon her like hungry vultures.

To say that Lilly (pseudonym) was carrion for the satanic scavenger accurately  described her dilemma, the warmth and youthful happiness had gone from her eyes and her rosy cheek were now ashen grey, Lilly’s whole demeanor was that of a frighten imperiled victim of her aggressors. She was told by these more mature collegiate icons, that she was now under their coven’s authority and she must unquestionably follow all their dictates, terrifying yes more so if this had not been the 1960’s when  college campus life  was “in loco parentis “ and even pledges were subservient to fraternity/ sorority members. Lilly’s problems were much more sinister and could mean the end of her fledgling college career, she was so panicked and distraught my young friend was a candidate for insanity or suicide, and I had no proof but I believe her condition was aggravated by some drugs they’d forced her to take.  I was about to loose a friend and good confidant to these demonic harpies, I was enraged inside but relatively calm on the outside, gearing up for battle with enemy I thought I didn’t know.

First things first, I informed my dear friend Lilly that sadly her time at school had ended, that my elders had taught me not to fight Evil but rather resist it, and in this case that meant removing oneself for Evil sphere of influence thereby releasing Evil’s grip on her. I had Lilly pack her basic essentials after calling her folks to say she was on her way, I escorted Lilly to the Greyhound Bus station where we pooled our money for a ticket to home and safety, and I tearfully wave goodbye to my young friend who promised she’d write as soon as she landed.

Got a letter from Lilly a week later, seems that her parents dashed back up to the school and retrieved all of her belongings, and she was recuperating at the family home, and enclosed in the envelope was money for my ticket contribution. I was happy everything had worked out, I could imagine being in a similar situation and helpless to defend myself…until it happened to me, it turned out that my most trusted ally’s at college were part of this coven and I began to feel more and more unstable as though I was being weakened by drugs. A good guess and I finally had to have the school nurse send me home, my parents fretfully awaiting my arrival at the Greyhound Bus terminal, and to my chagrin and utter embarrassment to school to retrieve my belongings.

I took me a couple of   month to fully recover from my ordeal, and I did wonder what had happened to my young friend Lilly, then a year later I was watching the Newlywed Game there she was looking happy and full of life as though this tragedy had never occurred.  Lilly and I unfortunately had run into devious people that altered our lives, but it’s a common occurrence for your young freshmen barley out of their teen and away from home and family, to have minor adjustment problems to complete nervous breakdowns.

The pressures to succeed academically and socially are enormous, one may have been the best in their class or the best in their state but find themselves achieving a much lower rate than their peers, and the academic setting can be disappointing for serious students with teachers more concerned about job security than teaching and other students on campus to ingratiate themselves with rich parents. Being at school to please family or community can make the four year process a drudgery, some students escape by alcoholic binge or illegal drug usage, other young immature students turn toward camaraderie with less serious students or find a romantic partner. The great lesson I learned from higher education was that I could have done well without it, but I did better in life by being in that complex and organized society, I played hooky from high school and attend University and adult art school classes but the commitment wasn’t the same until I was a registered older student.