Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Bit of a Yo-Yo: Not Quite Bipolar, But Not 100% on an Even Keel, Either

I admit to being one of the more yo-yo-like individuals on the planet who does not have an actual bipolar diagnosis. Life in general for me, as well as my overall outlook,  is much more cheerful and convivial than it was just a few days ago. My precious puppy is still dead, and there's no way I can put a happy face on that aspect of my life or on the puppy's very short life, but other things in my life are settling into place.

A person who was recently very inappropriately unkind to me has received her comeuppance. Perhaps I shouldn't be so overjoyed about this having happened, but in general, Karma is something that makes me happy. I don't all that often do things to cause myself to be on the down side of Karma, though I am human and can on occasion allow my emotions to get the better of me to the extent that I wish ill on a person when it would be better for everyone involved were I to clear my mind and allow the universe to unfold as it should without mirth on my part at a difficulty experienced by someone else even if I view the difficulty I experienced  as a direct result of the person having been deliberately vicious to me. For the most part, I am one of the people in the world who doesn't have to eke out an existence in a war-torn nation or in an area devoid of a potable water supply.  I am fortunate and blessed, and I try not to forget it. I have no idea why it worked out that way for me. I should simply count my own blessings and not worry about when God or Karma or anything or anyone else will get even with someone who has been cruel to me beyond the scope of his or her duties. Sometimes it's someone's job to tell me that I have erred. I can accept that even when I'm made aware of the error of my ways in a not especially diplomatic matter. It's when I'm wrongly castigated, especially by a person who has no authority to do so, and even more so when the person seems to make it a point to be as public as possible in "reprimanding" me (I used the quotations around reprimand because my understanding of the word is that it only truly applies when the person who issues the reprimand is in some way acting with appropriate authority) that I take exception to the  act.  By the same token, I've heard my peers refer to having been "called on the carpet" or "written up"  by someone with less authority than they in regard to the matter over which one has been criticized. A person without any authority whatsoever  can make a complaint about a person to another person who possesses authority to address the matter, but the original complainant cannot "call the person on the carpet," so to speak, nor "write the person up," if his or her rank is lower than that of the person he or she purports to "call on the carpet" or to "write up."

Suffice it to say that in my recent case of having been publicly [temporarily] humiliated by a person who operated under the mistaken assumption that she was in a position of authority to reprimand me, even though she truly believed that she held sufficient authority to correct my actions, my demeanor, my apparel, my hair and make up, and other things, she committed a few key errors along the way.  First and foremost, when in doubt, a person would, more often than not, do well to choose a the kindest choice of action when given the option. In my particular case, the kindest choice of action would have been to have spoken to me privately instead of seeming to intentionally amass the largest audience she could practically gather on such short notice. (Not only would this have been kinder with regard to me; she would have been kinder to herself. She would have endured far less humiliation had she privately singled me out for obliquy. Her superiors might not have noticed that she was acting so far out of line, and might not have taken her on in the manner in which they chose to do, and she might thus spared some degree of public humiliation had the audience [which she went out of her way to solicit] not been present in such force , hence sparing her such a public dressing-down.

Neither do I overlook the audience's role in all of this. A few just stumbled into the situation and had no idea what they were in for; I think I know which ones they were, and I place no blame on them. For the most part, they were no friendlier with her than with me prior to the incident; They were looking for entertainment. They're all far too old and should be much too professional to have been caught up in this matter. They're not much less blameless than if they were there in anticipation of the two of us engaging in a knock-down, drag-out, hair-pulling fight, which was never going to happen regardless because I can run a hell of a lot faster than the other person can even when I am weakened by an especially draining case of colitis. I hold the intentional audience accountable for their role. While I haven't made a formal list of their names, i remember who they were. If I have a chance to do a favor for any one of them, I most likely will not. Secondly, my castigator would have been wise to have spoken her words in the most diplomatic way she could have  managed. Diplomacy comes more easily to some than it does to others, but anyone, in any given situation, has the option of choosing kind words or choosing words that will make their impact in the most wounding way possible. She chose the second option.

Attending physicians sometimes choose this course of action with the rationale that eventually, someone's life will be on the line, and by making a stinging point to a future attending physician, perhaps the point will stick with that future doctor in such a way that he will remember the lesson learned more fully and that the future physician will perhaps be less likely to commit an error that may result in loss of life. (Perhaps my nemesis might have suffered a temporary delusion of grandeur and might possibly have mistaken herself for an attending physician.) I'm actually giving the attending physician and the creep the benefit of the doubt in saying such. In some cases, the attending physician is simply being unkind because he can be; he possesses the authority to verbally abuse others to some degree , and he intends to use it because he can. Perhaps he had an argument with his wife or child earlier than morning and is taking out his resulting anger on an intern or medical school student, or perhaps someone took his designated parking space, which is another offense for which someone had to pay even if it was not the person who had anything to do with the attending physician's parking space having been misappropriated. Perhaps the attending physician  truly is a jerk. Or perhaps he genuinely feels that a medical error is not being taken sufficiently seriously and is responding in a way that to the rest of us seems unduly harsh, but, in the more experienced judgment of the attending physician, is necessary in order to create the sort of impression that would cause the underling to remember the incident and to take it with sufficient gravity that it doesn't happen again unnecessarily.  In  my humble and inexperienced opinion, the cases where the latter is true -- those cases in which an attending physician truly he believes he is potentially saving future lives by ensuring that the medical student or intern grasps the ponderousness of the situation as the result of the attending physician behaving as an asshole --  are the minority. It's my opinion that in most of such cases, attending physicians who behave like jerks do so simply because they are jerks -- some take extreme delight in causing female phsyicians-in-training to cry --  but I don't profess to know which is the case in every situation, and certainly there are times for righteous indignation. (And I'm getting a lot better at staring down abusive attending physicians without crying.) In the grand scheme of things, other than the initial harassment case, I've suffered less abuse in grand rounds than have most of my peers, but we've all come under fire to some degree. While I understand the need for righteous indignation on occasion (it's one of my least favorite word combinations from the Holy Bible), I believe that it's overused in the field of medicine and only rarely serves to make anyone a better health practitioner than he or she would have been without it. 

Nonetheless, before anyone goes so far as to express righteous indignation, especially in a decidedly public manner, one would do well to ensure that he or she possessed the jurisdiction to perpetrate the reproof in the first place.  Anyone can civilly take up with a colleague, especially in a quiet manner, a disagreement as to how any situation was handled. If such is done in a sufficiently diplomatic manner, usually a third party isn't even required for mediation unless there's a technical matter on which two people cannot agree and it's of sufficient importance that not clarifying which side is correct could potentially result in harm to a patient.

Not just anyone, however, can arbitrarily conclude that because it took her longer to complete the same number of rotations (or, technically, fewer rotations) than it took another person, that the person somehow possesses seniority and authority over the other person.  Protocol exists to the contrary. Regardless, it is not the place of a fifth-year medical student (who is in her fifth year of medical school because she required five years to complete what most medical students can complete in four years) to point out another's personal failings, most of which had nothing to do with the study of medicine, to someone she considers to be her inferior.  I listened to her criticisms without comment, and would have continued to do so regardless of the circumstances. Fortunately in this particular case, enough superiors were present who chose to intervene on my behalf and set the person straight as to the necessity for her to focus on her own studies and not upon my hair, fingernails, cosmetics, shoes, the fit of my scrubs, my frequent visits to the bathroom because of a colitis flare-up, and my occasional inability to make it through surgeries all the way to completion because of colitis.   I  felt that I'm not likely to hear her criticisms again, which is, for me, a feeling  both of vindication and of empowerment.

I have only two remaining days to work before I prepare for a lengthy vacation. It will be to a cold weather location, though I don't intend to take in lot of winter sports. I may ski or snowboard a bit, though not much. Instead, I'll watch the Winter Olympics figure skating on TV in one of the rooms of my hotel suite. I'll order from the hotel's 24-hour-a-day room service menu.  I'll play the grand piano that is in my hotel suite whenever I feel like doing so. I'll do the same with my  violin. I'll do a bit of snowmobiling and will travel by horse-drawn sleigh to the restaurant that is only accessible by sleigh, horseback, or snowmobile. I'll sleep, read, and stare out the windows of my corner suite at the gorgeous views.  The vacation is the most decadent one of my life (I thought our Christmas trip to Austria last year was decadent, but it was practically slumming it in comparison to this one.  I recognize that, at least this early in my career, it would not be prudent for me to spend money on vacations of this level on anything resembling a regular basis. Because of the way this vacation came about, which was a result of a cancellation of a concert by a performing artist,  a bodyguard is even a part of this package deal. The very idea of my needing a bodyguard is preposterous, but I sometimes hear scary noises at night.  I'll sleep with a bit more ease with the knowledge that the bodyguard comes as part of the package deal. I'll need to give the bodyguard a substantial tip, but because this trip is a once-in-a-decade thing at the most, I can afford to do so.

My feared fracture with a friend was a false alarm. False alarms seem to be plaguing me at an alarming rate, or at least with an alarming degree of severity.  First it was the cell phone notification of the threat of the ballistic missile while I was in Hawaii, which was a bit disturbing.  Next it was the implied threat of  a break-off of a friendship due to purely unintentionally hurtful words followed by unintentional silence. In all honesty, the threat of the loss of a friendship was more traumatic to me than was the ballistic missile threat if for no reason other than that I never took the ballistic missile threat entirely seriously. 

Regarding the threat of a loss of a friendship, due to things that happened  in my distant past that I've never discussed here out of protection for the reputation of my mother, but may at some point write about, I take close friendships or relationships of any sort very seriously, and the threat of the loss of one is most discomforting to me. Yet not every perceived slight is intended as such. Sometimes people are simply very busy. We all have work that must be done. Neither are communications always meant exactly as they are taken, which is an inherent characteristic of communication by text.  While I still think at least one thing my friend said was unnecessarily harsh, there was no intent on his part to hurt my feelings. Sometimes one has to take things at face value and not read more into something than was intended. Also, friends will disagree on occasion. If the person is a real friend, it's something one can move beyond. This person is a real friend, and so we can move beyond such things as miscommunications and misunderstandings. Life is too fleeting to allow oneself to be excessively caught up in the minutiae of every misunderstanding. It's better to apologize, to learn from the experience, and to get past it.  Real  friends are too few and far between for one not to forgive and forget when trivial misunderstandings are involved.

This video belongs to someone other than I. To whomever is the rightful owner, I express my appreciation to you for allowing me to borrow it.


  1. Many years ago I had a roommate who was a third year med student who had the worst body odor of anyone I knew. He always stunk enough to curl your nose hairs and I don't remmeber if he just didn't shower enough or wouldn't use deodorant of some sort. It was difficult to figure out how to approach, but eventually someone at the hospital called him out on it. He changed his way which I am sure worked much better for his coworkers and patients. I believe it was done discreetly. About fifteen years and five hundred miles later I ran into him and his wife and daughter where I worked. I invited them to my house and was happy that he no longer smelled bad.

  2. one of myomo's jobs as a music professor is to provide supervisioooooonto student teachers seeking music education credentials of some sort. one of her supervisees has some rather pungent body odor. To make matters worse, the woman isn't a terribly proficient musician, nor is she much of a teacher, (Classroom teaching of music at the elementary level would be the area in which she would she to be credentialed were she to be credentialed.) a person could say, "Then just teach her how to teach and solve the problem, but it's not usually that simple. There are things all teachers need to learn, particularly about classroom management, which if they're very bright, they'll pick up from their master teachers in student teaching or they'll learn on the job in substitute teaching, which is probably better preparation for teaching even than student teaching is. For the most part, however, teachers -- at least teachers of children -- are either born good at it or have become good at it through life experiences or a combination of both having born with the skill and having been smart enough to figure out what worked and what didn't work with the teachers they had in their own schooling and why.

    In any event, my mom is going to hav to find a diplomatic way of telling this prospective teacher that her hygiene routine isn't working and help her to fix the problem, yet the lady probably still won't make it as a classroom music teacher. I suppose one could look at it from the point of view that the improvement in personal hygiene will help her in what ever field she ultimately lands unless it's field working (i.e. farm labor), in which case most of her co-workers won't be near enough to her to care about her scent.

  3. Reminds me of Schwartzeneger's movie "Kindergarten Cop". He figured it out on the job.

    1. Even though it's Hollywood, it's more realistic than the average person might think. Teachers are born to be teachers, not taught in universities to be teachers.