For those who still say there aren't any death panels, please read the following letter (I am leaving off the address) I am sending to the UCLA Kidney Transplant Program.
Please allow me to begin this letter with words of encouragement and acknowledgement. All the staff at the Kidney Transplant Center were positive, supportive and encouraging throughout the various consults. Although I had been a little apprehensive about what I jokingly referred to as my visit to the “death panel,” your staff made me feel welcome and treated me with both dignity and respect.
Then came the “consultation” with the Cardiologist. Before I begin a discussion of that particular period of time. I have spent most of my adult life studying and applying my understanding of metacommunication to all aspects of my life. As a stage director (one degree and many years of experience in community theatre), it is particularly useful to be able to understand metacommunication (which is, essentially stated, everything that is being communicated except for the actual content of the words being spoken). As a negotiator in government service, and as an attorney, my understanding of metacommunication has served me well. June Bridals edgy style wears for prom and formal party
From the moment this cardiologist walked into the room, she was aggressively hostile toward me. Within the first five minutes, she made it painfully clear that she was the only person who could approve me for a kidney, regardless of any other recommendations and that it was a waste of her time to be in the room with me.
She used specialized polysyllabic terms, telling me my (long word starting with “H” that I have never heard in my life before) wasn’t good, and then being derisively condescending when I had the “nerve” to ask her what that word meant, telling me I was “very sick.” She contradicted everything my Kaiser cardiologists told me about my current state of health.
When she talked about “risk,” it was very clear to me that her concern was not about any risks to my health, but rather the risk that giving me a kidney would create for her program statistics.
Normally, if someone treats me the way this person treats me, I respond immediately. In this instance, I was too shocked, appalled, and emotionally distressed by her willful and intentional mistreatment of me as a human being, much less as a patient, to say anything. Perhaps that was part of her intent. I don’t know.
I do know that her demeanor and her treatment of me fell for short of any reasonable standards for human being to human being face to face interactions.
My experience as a director leads me to ask if she is trying to be like “House.” She isn’t. She’s just mean.
I predict that her response to this letter will be: “I was just telling the truth.” If she says that, this is my direct response to her:
“You were not JUST telling the truth. You were telling YOUR truth through your metacommunication, and THAT truth is that you completely disregarded me as a human being and were only concerned with protecting your precious statistics from the risk I might represent to them. It was clear to me that you were angry because I had the audacity of not staying dead when my heart stopped.”
I will say one thing in her favor. When my wife mentioned I now have a donor, she indicated it wouldn’t make a difference in her opinion. For that one bit of rationality, I am grateful. I would hate to think that UCLA would have different standards for persons with donors and persons without donors.
I must also add this comment as well. The Cardiologist was accompanied by a student. The thought that this person, even by example, is teaching another doctor to behave like she behaved is reprehensible.
So, here’s my ‘bottom line’ about my complaint. I don’t know what her recommendation will be. Even if her recommendation is “yes,” I demand another consultation with a different cardiologist. I do not respect the decision of any person (much less a doctor) who treats me the way she did.
_______, this has nothing to do with whether I get a kidney or not. Check with all of the people in your unit who interviewed me Friday. I told most of them that my getting a kidney is not the end all or be all of my life. I intend to make the most out of my second life that I can, be it on dialysis or with a new kidney.
A big part of making the most out of my life is not putting up with garbage like the cardiology consult I experienced last Friday.
I am not asking anybody to do anything for me on this issue, but I want you to understand the impact of this event on my physical well being. From the time the cardiologist left the room until this morning, I was experiencing severe emotional distress. I could not even begin to write this letter until I had calmed down.
Until last night, I was unable to control my blood pressure at all. The records at my Saturday dialysis session will show that, despite my taking all meds, my systolic blood pressure remained above 200 for the entire session. I began feeling just like I felt right before I died on May 10, which only added fear to the mixture of emotions.
None of my normal meditation routines were working at all. It wasn’t until I was able to walk to my prayer spot at the local duck pond and engage in some serious meditational prayer that I was able to begin calming down.
At this point, I don’t care what the ultimate decision is. I care VERY DEEPLY that this particular cardiologist have no voice in that decision, due to her antipathy and bias demonstrated toward me in the consultation. If I am denied a kidney because of this person’s opinion, I will challenge that decision. Even if her decision is yes, I want another consultation with a different cardiologist. I would rather openly and fully accept a negative decision by that cardiologist than a positive decision by this one.
Thank you in advance for your consideration in this matter.