Training My Tongue

I was brought up to believe in the adage: “When you speak, speak the truth, but don’t always speak.”  Not that I often follow that good advice.  It’s right up there with another mantra that is popular in some circles: “There is no such thing as a stupid question.”  Yes, there is, say I.  I heard many during my 39 years as a teacher and have certainly asked my share – especially when I’ve ignored the second half of that familiar old proverb: “Speech is silver but silence is golden.”

I’ve been thinking about all of those mantras and idioms here at the University of Washington Medical Center.  Nyel was sent here from Legacy Emanuel Hospital to be evaluated for receiving a heart pump – an option not available at Emanuel Hospital, but yet the only option the Portland doctors feel is viable at this point.  The doctors here say that Nyel’s heart function is good enough so that the heart pump possibility is “off the table.”

Now that they have said “no” to the heart pump, they are back to walking a path that is familiar to Nyel. They are repeating the same tests that Nyel has been having for many months; some for many years.  I suppose the hope is that they will see something here that the Portland doctors have missed.  So far… not so.  And why is it that they cannot look at his history – all the charts and notes and scans, all the electronic records and DVDs that were sent with Nyel?  Or did they?  What are they doing that is different?  Or are they?

Yesterday I asked.  The answers were in doctor-speak and made me feel like I should reconsider the “silence is golden” rule.  I’m pretty sure that my questions came under the “stupid” category.  Fair enough.  But I didn’t like some of the responses that seemed to demean Nyel’s Portland experience.  I didn’t like feeling patronized.  The team (yesterday four doctors, a nurse, and a fellow or two) will be here shortly on their rounds.  I mean to hold my tongue this time.  Except maybe to ask when Nyel might be discharged.

2 Responses to “Training My Tongue”

  1. Cate Gable says:

    It was a splendid example of medical-speak…largely unintelligible by intelligent humans.

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    sydney Reply:

    The day after you were here was even more interesting, Cate. Nyel was sitting in a chair so, at the conclusion of the team’s discussion, the doctor sat on Nyel’s bed with his back to me and spoke directly to Nyel in a voice so soft I couldn’t really hear him. I definitely got the message, though: questions and comments from the little woman not wanted. If that happens today, I believe I will muscle my way through the crowd and re-position myself so I am at least within his line of sight…

    [Reply]

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