The Rest of the Story (or, An Ethical Question)

If you knew that one phone call to an influential person would elevate the level of care received in a health care setting, would you make that phone call?

I delved into that question yesterday when I met with someone on an unrelated matter. After taking care of some business, our conversation detoured into my father’s most recent emergency room experience.

“Call me next time,” he said, and handed me his card. “Keep this in your wallet and call me.”

“I won’t call you,” I told him.

My parents raised me to believe that everyone should be treated in the same way. Everyone deserves dignity. Everyone deserves good care. Everyone.

Yet, despite my saying otherwise in this man’s office, I had, the day before, been searching for his phone number while sitting at Hallway 6 with my father. It turned out the website wouldn’t load because it was down for maintenance.

As my sister would say, “It was a God thing.”

I was ready to throw my principles out the window for a little respect for my father. See how shallow I am?

But God, or happenstance, kept me from calling, and my principles remain mostly intact.

Because, in the midst of this search for someone who could get us out of the hallway situation, Roy the cheerful PCA came along.

Tell him a story,” he said.

The rest is history — castles in Bosnia and a hallway bed that became a place for storytelling.

Next time, would I make the phone call? I like to think not.

When I sit quietly with my ideals, everything is clear. I am confident in how I would act given a difficult situation.

But in the midst of a trial, idealism and nobleness vanish like smoke.Β I need safety measures and reminders in place. I need websites to malfunction.

I intentionally did not put that business card in my wallet. I don’t want to be tempted.

A different hallway bed I sat beside last year.
The call bell for the hallway bed last year. My father didn’t even receive this.


7 thoughts on “The Rest of the Story (or, An Ethical Question)

  1. There is a middle route in some places.. a State Ombudsman available to residents of any medical setting can get involved nicely, like a cousin amongst cousins. His/her name and number should be in a kitchenette. (And… you didn’t show shallowness, you showed love. There’s a whopping difference. πŸ™‚ ❀ )

    1. I was aware of the ombudsman when my mother was in a nursing home. I didn’t know that they also spoke for patients at hospitals.

      (Shallow — probably not the exact right word, but it was the daily prompt, so I tried to make it fit. My other post idea was about wading in the Adriatic, but I don’t want people to get sick of my trip stories. πŸ™‚ )

  2. Oh Sally! It so should not be like this. Your parents raised you with the right principals… all people are born equal and deserve equal opportunity and equal rights. Except that the others unequalise the equation (I’m sticking with that word … it fits and I like it whether or not its contained in any recognised dictionary). The others being that faceless mess that wrecks healthcare, wrecks social care and claims we voted for them. In the end you must do right by you. You are your daddy’s daughter and he is now dependant on your good judgement imbued by him and your mummy. Go with it in the moment. What you choose will be right. In the moment and let no-one least of all You, please argue with whatever it turns out to be. Because in this anxious messed up world of ours all you can do is what you feel is right with the bolstering up of strong values instilled from the cradle. Flex when you have to πŸ€”

    1. Thanks, Osyth. I agree it should NOT be like this. Here’s another thing my father used to always tell me — “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” He encouraged to make right choices even when everyone else was making poor choices. That can be the hardest thing to do.

      Really, what makes it hard is finding the balance between living by the principles he taught us, and making sure he gets the best care. It’s kind of crazy that the two don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.

      True story — my father was a physician, and waaaay back in the old days, my brother and I would wait at his office for a ride home. There was a sphygmomanometer (blood pressure do-hickey) on the wall in each exam room. My brother and I would mess sometimes around with them. We found that if we put it on, pumped up the cuff, and then flexed, we could make the mercury (or whatever it was) shoot out the top. I wonder how many we ruined. All this is to say, sometimes flexing is fun and cool, but sometimes it does harm, too. I’m a little reluctant to flex. πŸ™‚

      1. That is a brilliant metaphor and I do understand very clearly where you are coming from. Actually, the one time I strayed from my father’s principles I started something that is still impacting on a horrible way on my life. Nothing medical not life-threatening . Another day …

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