Monday, October 09, 2006

Oh, dear. Now I can't sleep.

I watched the PBS special on the Freedom Riders and CORE and the SNCC tonight, the one about the downtown Nashville boycott and the nationwide Woolworth's boycott in the early 1960's. And I was gobsmacked, as I am every time I see that special, that the sort of racism and hatred shown existed in my sister's lifetime. And I wondered, as I do every time I see that special, what the hell people were thinking.

Well, well. Then I clicked over to Pandagon. One of the commenters there, Pam Spaulding, has a website of her own as well called Pam's House Blend. You'd figure, being an outspoken Black feminist lesbian, that she'd have to take some shit from people who seem to crawl out of the sewers from time to time...but she linked to a Blogger site that blew. My. Mind. Not only is it chock-full of the sorts of things that make me nauseated, but it's primarily focused on her. Which makes it not only hate speech but harassment.

And yes, I tagged that sumbitch and then sent Blogger an email, pointing out the site, pointing out that it was harassment, and said please do something about this now thank you.

Every time I think we've evolved as a society I run across weirdos like that. Pure kooks. Pure hate-filled, bile spewing kooks that literally make me throw up in my mouth a little bit. And I wonder: what would I do if I had to take care of one of those people?

I mean, I'm in the South. And I've heard some real gems come out of people's mouths in the last few years. For some reason, the folks with brain tumors or massive strokes are rarely the ones with outspoken, bigoted views, who find it acceptable to use racial slurs in public. It's the people who've just had, say, a lumbar laminectomy. They don't even have the excuse of having had a hole cut in their head.

But by the time I hear that sort of garbage from one of my patients, I'm already committed to taking care of them for the day. So I slap them down, as politely as I can, by telling them that a) that sort of language is *not* acceptable to me, b) they won't use it in front of me, and c) they've had their one chance. Next time, they get another nurse.

And yeah, I have had to turn over care a couple of times to the charge. I hate to do it; I'd frankly rather just leave those folks in the bed, but somebody has to make sure their miserable little shriveled souls don't leave their bodies in an untimely fashion.

But. What would I do if, say, a Klansman came in for surgery?

I know they exist. I know some of them live around here, probably in the same neighborhoods as the Birchers and the disciples of Phelps.

Would I take care of that person? *Could* I? I mean, I have a duty not to harm, right? And I have a duty to serve. All that stuff in the Nightingale Pledge is stuff I agree to do every day when I put my clogs on and head out the door. But could I, in good conscience, agree to help heal and succor somebody that I figure is better off dead?

What about a rapist? Child molester? The guy who starved his aunt to death? What if *he* came back? What about some dude who habitually beats up his wife? If I knew about it in advance, would I take them on?

All I know for sure is that if Red Peters shows up on my floor, he'd best be prepared to start his own damn IV.


Anonymous said...

You save them because you have two awful choices:

1) you believe that human life is worth something no matter how much its expression repels you

2) you do not want to be the kind of person who in 1960 would have let a Black guy die

In other words, you don't let your personal beliefs alter the care you give because the moral stench of the people who did it 46 years ago still nauseates you.

I, personally, thank God I am a technical writer.

Anonymous said...

it is hard, but you still will. like i do all the time.

Anonymous said...

I actually do deal with this rather often, but in the "drunk driver who killed someone, but, due to his incredibly drunken limber state was barely hurt, and needs ED care"...

It really hurt last year when I got home and found out the person they had killed was a close friend... Lots of soul searching after that one...

I can't say it doesn't affect the care I give, I'm probably a little elss compasionate, and much less social, but our passion is care and healing, even if we don't like the person...

shrimplate said...

Nurses are allowed to say what they think.

Anonymous said...

I guess the real test is not how we treat those we like...but how we treat those we don't. Is not agreeing with someone's beliefs (even finding them abhorrent) a reason to deny them needed care? Would it be ok for a care provider to deny care to someone who is gay, or someone who is of a different religion?

I totally understand how it can be harder, and I'd never ask or expect you to like the person. Just to recognize that, horrible as their beliefs are, they're still a human being...and anyway, I can't see you stooping to their level, however much it may make you grind your teeth while dealing with them.