Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Burn

I struggled to write here, not because I didn't want to, but because I didn't think my writing skills could accurately convey what I'm thinking and feeling. But time has not necessarily helped me gain clarity so I'll muddle through. 

Our country is burning. I wouldn't say its "falling apart" because that would imply it was previously intact. Clearly it never has been. There have been massive cracks and holes we have papered over and the paper has been ripped open and burned to ash and we all have to look and do the hard work of fixing those wrongs before we can build again.

I feel guilt about how little I can do. I have a duty to my family and my patients and I can't be protesting where there is tear gas and rubber bullets and random arrests of peaceful citizens and journalists. And yet...part of me longed to be there, to rage and shout, and fight on the right side of justice, damn the consequence. 

I rage-donate instead. Equal justice initiative, and ACLU and our city's bailout funds. And I read and listen to the words of truthful and intelligent men and women. I talk to my children about what is happening, and I hope to keep the conversation going. I'm writing letters to our city officials about diverting our meager budget towards schools and housing and food for people vs. arming the police. Of course, I voted in the primary today (by mail) and I am looking into organizations I can join to help influence in November. I can't do much but I can write some texts and postcards. 

I am also thinking about discrimination and implicit bias in medicine, and taking time to think through each patient interaction afterward and how it may have been influenced by prejudice in any way. I know it happens, I'm sure I've done it, but I want to be aware and do better. I think of the many many ways the privileged hold on to that privilege over generations, even in advocating for their family's health care. How can I help those that don't feel comfortable, or even realize the need, to speak up and be the squeaky wheel? 

Its not enough, but its a start. I've stopped thinking "I can't wait for things to get back to normal" because normal is NOT ENOUGH. 


5 comments:

  1. I think my comment was eaten. I'll post it again and please delete if this turns out to be a duplicate.

    I think your thoughts on discrimination and implicit bias in medicine are so important. I'm very aware of how my education and my own privilege have helped me navigate through so many tricky situations, and have taught me when and how to be the squeaky wheel. (I'm currently in a fight with my travel insurance provider which is a perfect example.)

    I hope that taking action in this way helps you feel like you are doing what you can to tackle what truly seems like an insurmountable problem.

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  2. We published a paper a few years back that showed that doctors spent more time with white patients when the icu was less busy, but not black patients. They got equivalent time when things were busy. We concluded that the predominantly white drs preferred on average to shoot the shit with white patients. The thing is I think this sort of thing matters. A lot. And it saddens me that I couldn’t write that I thought this was problematic in the paper. I also see it from time to time with how people talk about and treat patients and their families. Mostly I have been overcompensating for this when it happens by paying extra attention to these patients, but I struggle to find a way to correct the behavior without creating “a problem” at work. Anyway....

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