Thursday, January 25, 2007

on the other side of things

Sorry, friends - J wasn't feeling me posting before and after pictures. That's just the way he rolls, keeping things under the radar. He's hot like that.

On other fronts - I've managed to tackle the ER Discharge Planner Situation - got the results of the investigation yesterday, where they tried suggesting he was medically stable yet crashed and burned when pressed and admitted that they really didn't know what the hell to do with the guy. She was sheepish, almost. I stood my ground though, and while I think I was being vaguely patronized I went with it anyways and tossed out big words like inhumane medical treatment and unethical behavior and respite care legislation.

So they have agreed to meet and discuss lines of communication about who we can manage and who we can't. Baby steps.

And the unhappy ending - a client of ours died in his sleep yesterday. He was found in his bed by his best friend, another old timer rounding out his last days in a shelter. He was favored among the staff, a dignified and kind gentleman. It was suggested that I call the next of kin, and there was concern for how she'd react, as they were close.

But not close enough to not allow your relative not to die alone in a homeless shelter. Perhaps it was the wrong decision, but I declined in favor of having the police going over in person - because if you can't make that call wholeheartedly, then it's not yours to make.

Am I an asshole for that? Perhaps. I don't know her story and there are usually many layers to this sort of thing. It just didn't seem right. May he rest in peace.


Anonymous said...

I agree with your decision to decline to make the call. You've got to go with your gut.

Thailand Gal said...

May his memory be a blessing. :)

Good question.. good post. I like this comment particularly:

But not close enough to not allow your relative not to die alone in a homeless shelter.

And that sums up the twisted and weird concept of "closeness" we have in this culture. "You're my best friend... and I'm really sorry that you lost your job, your house and you'll be on the street. I'll pray for ya."

Sick, eh?

Anyway, no, you're not being an a-hole for not making the call. You're right. It was not yours to make.



NotSoSage said...

Baby steps is better than no steps at all. Good for you!

I think you were right not to make the call, if you couldn't be sure of being able to truly express and understand her grief.

As far as the other part of your post, I'm not really sure what to say. You're right, there are many layers to these things and you never know what the reasons are for decisions that people have made. Without knowing the full history of their relationship, you can't be certain that she (or he, for that matter) didn't have a good reason.

Perhaps you will learn their story in the coming days. My condolences.

Lucia said...

You deal with so many difficult things every day in your life. You are amazing. Yup, sometimes the right thing is to say no.

mamatulip said...

Baby steps are steps. Steps are moving forward. So good for you!

I think you made the right call about making the call. Your instinct said no and you went with it. I'd have done the same.

Jenny said...

In a million years, I would never call you an asshole for that.

I think your instincts were right.

The Atavist said...

We certainly don't follow the European example here of taking care of the elder generations at home. I was not able to care for my parents at home because they required too much care to make that possible. It alsways bothered me that I had to abandon my parents to an old age home. What must have happened for one person to let another poor soul expire in a homeless shelter? Maybe not much. Sometimes people just can't be bothered.

kristen said...

For me, you did the right thing. I think that sort of situation demands wholeheartedness and if not, better for the police.

Her Bad Mother said...

Not an asshole. SO not an asshole. Human. And right.

ewe are here said...

Yes, there are usually layers we don't see, can't see, in other peoples' lives and relationships. But not making the call yourself doesn't make you an *sshole. It wasn't yours to make.

Asforthe ER Discharge situation, glad you're still kicking them in the behind on that one.

Laurie said...

I just can't imagine what could lead a supposedly close family to abandon one of their own to die in a shelter. The though of it is unfathomable!

I wouldn't have made the call to his family either.

meno said...

I trust your instincts enough to say that whatever you did was the right thing.
Thank you for providing him with a place to die that wasn't under a bridge.

Good for you on the ER person. They will rue the day!

KC said...

Well, coming from someone who has made countless calls to family of patients who died alone in the hospital, I have to say that you never do know the circumstances. I've had patients who were deserted by family since they burned all bridges- maybe by drinking, abusing, drugs. I guess you never truly know. Even if they have been reformed, sometimes the hurt is too much to repair.

But, I have to notify the family. That's our medical obligation. You don't have an obligation to out-of-sight famlies and I don't think that's your job.

urban-urchin said...

not an asshole. if someone were to tell me that news I'd want them to be able to do it 'wholeheartedly' as you said. It's actually a thoughtful thing to do.

Deb said...

awww sista....of course you should follow your heart and you did the right thing. AND you are making excellent headway, bringing about change. This is huge lifechanging opportunities and eye opening shit you are carrying out.

You blow my mind, I am so in awe of all you take on.

QT said...

Wow, I am so impressed with how far you have actually taken the hospital thing. For some reason I pictured a lot more stonewalling before you would get to this point. I guess those key phrases you threw out really helped.

And I agree with KC - not your job, honey.

wendy said...

You are amazing and inspirational. Keep up the great work and never beat yourself up in the process.

Juliness said...

There are hundreds of difficult decisions surrounding death and few *right* answers. I support your awareness of the situation and your instinct of letting the cops contact the family. Being perceptive is not the same thing as being as asshole. Not even close.