Monday, March 30, 2009

The Police

I know that this is all the heck over the blogosphere and already old news but it's something I think all white parents of a black child should see. The short version is that a police officer detains and harasses a black man, Ryan Moats, who committed a minor moving violation as he rushed to the hospital to be at the bedside of his dying mother-in-law. It was all caught on video, and it's truly appalling--I mean makes-you-want-to-throw-up appalling. And heartbreaking, too, especially when Moats cedes his outrage and puts on a respectful voice to repeat "yes, sir" over and over as the police officer lords it over him. Why would you want to do that to another person? Why?

Edited to add: An interview with Moats and his wife is here, and well worth wathcing. Apparently, the officer actually pointed a gun at Moats' wife as she hurried toward the hospital entrance. Nice guy.

So, it really wasn't...

so terrible after all. The surgery, that is. In fact, the nurses and doctors were pretty darn terrific. I wonder if our ENT intervened somehow because the same woman I talked to on the phone turned out to be one of our nurses but she was all about making sure that I was with him as soon as he came out of surgery, and was going out of her way to make sure J. didn't get unnecessarily spooked or anxious. (Dr. K.--if it was you, bless your heart, and thank you for getting it.) In fact, they let us be with him for all of the prep, and they gave him meds to calm him down BEFORE they took him into the O.R., and they even let me administer them. The whole thing was over in 15 minutes and they whisked us back there right away and J. wasn't crying because a completely lovely nurse named Jodi, who will have a place in my heart forever, was holding and comforting him. And then we just hung out for an hour, until J. became less narcoleptic and "bobbleheaded" (Jodi's term), and the smell of the gas dissipated as he got it out of his lungs. (Man, does that stuff smell awful.) He had some water, and then some milk, and seemed more and more his old self. And then we were sent off home.

But I have to say one more thing about the nurse--THAT nurse, not sweet Jodi--because it exemplifies so much of what drives me crazy about the medical profession. First, I want to acknowledge that she was sensitive and decent to J., and to me. But she does have a problem with the how-tos of empathy--for example, when they took J. back, he cried a little, and then my mom started to cry, and the nurse sang out "It's OKAY, he'll be JUST FINE" in about the most cheery voice you can possibly imagine. This was not helpful, not remotely helpful. Are there no bedside manner classes at nursing school? Because I'd be happy to teach one...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Adoption from a birthmother's perspective

Please go and read this deeply moving piece by a birthmother. So much to learn, so much to learn.

Friday, March 20, 2009

No, it really isn't.

Why do people want you to say that something is okay when it clearly isn’t? I hate that, especially when it’s done in a patronizing high-handed “you know you can’t do anything about it anyway, so why don’t you just agree so that I can keep using my nice voice and we can all pretend that everything is just fine” kind of way. Which is exactly what just happened.

You see, a woman from the surgical center just called me to discuss the ear tube surgery that my son will be having next week. I am all for the ear tubes, as little J. has had a double ear infection for over a month that has resisted three courses of oral antibiotics and two antibiotic shots, and that has deprived us all of a lot of sleep and good humor. But I’m ambivalent about the actual surgery. You know, the whole thing about someone taking your child into a room where you can’t go and sticking needles in him and making him breathe gas and, for all you know, scaring the bejesus out of him. That part I’m not so keen about.

The woman from the surgical center called to tell me about what happens on the day of the surgery. There is plenty that seems, quite frankly, arbitrary and arranged for the convenience of the doctors rather than for the well-being of the patients. I don't understand why I can't carry him back to the surgery room; I don't understand why--if they insist that I can't carry him back there--that they can't give him the calming-down medicine they are going to give him BEFORE they take him from my arms so that he won't panic and freak out. But what I really don't understand is that I will not be able to see J. immediately after the surgery, and that I'm not to try to see him, (and here's the zinger) EVEN THOUGH I will hear him crying. For an unspecified amount of time ("how long?" I ask. "It depends," she says). I have to just sit there and listen, and he has to just lie there alone and cry.

"Okay?" she says in a voice she might use with a small child. "No," I say, "no, it really isn't." Because this would be hard for any parent, but I have particular concerns. I explain that my child is adopted. That, as part and parcel of his adoption process, he has experienced several traumatic and permanent separations from the people he loves. That this history will make being in the recovery room without me more traumatic than it is for children who have had the good fortune of having a consistent caretaker their entire lives. That it is important to minimize this time for him to avoid further traumatization.

All I really want is for her to say something minimally validating and accomodating, like “I can really understand those concerns and I’ll note them in his chart and make sure that we get you back there just as soon as possible.” But she does not say anything like this. First, she implies that I'm not concerned for my son's safety. Then she tells me that they have done many operations on adopted children. Which is not the point. The more she talks, the more impatient and patronizing she becomes. I can just feel what she is thinking: that I am overreacting, hysterical, unreasonable, making a big deal out of nothing; that they are medical professionals and I should just trust them and do what they say; that I’m making her late for her coffee break; and worse, that adoption doesn’t have anything to do with this anyway; and, perhaps worst of all, children don't form long-term memories at this young an age, doesn't everyone know that?