Saturday, April 18, 2015


While discussing general ER happenings with a friend, we got onto the topic of cancer and people being dicks. I'll be completely honest - having cancer is like a get out of jail free card with me. One can pretty much be the meanest person ever but I'll be like, eh, not mad because cancer sucks and I'd be hateful too probably.

But a few weeks ago I had a patient who was just the absolute worst - he had some serious cancer issues going on but signed out AMA from the ER almost immediately. As is his right, but when I asked him to sign the forms, he said "I'm not signing anything for you, you cunt." And walked out.

So when I saw that he was back in the ER the other day and trying to sign out AMA again, I just kinda shook my head. I know cancer sucks - really, it does - but I found I had zero sympathy for the dude. He's gonna die, and probably soon, and I didn't care at all what happened to him.

Does this make me a mean person? Or am I right to not care about someone after they were genuinely horrible to me? I don't know how to feel about it - on the one hand, I get that cancer is awful and I can't expect someone to have the warm fuzzies towards everyone all the time, but on the other hand I can't easily forgive someone calling me awful names and being terrible just because they wanted to. I don't know. I feel guilty for not caring but at the same time I feel indignant because he was an absolute dick to me.

Feelings. I haz them, and they keep me up blogging at 0300. Ugh.


Aesop said...

Cancer sucks when it happens to a perfectly wonderful person. It's unfortunate when it happens to anyone with most of a life still ahead of them.

And for some people, it is a consummation devoutly to be wished, because they probably deserve it.

I can't imagine treating everyone like sh*t just because I got dealt a crappy hand in the lottery of diseases. To the contrary, if my life was leaking out in direct proportion to some rotten cluster of cells metastasizing, the LAST thing I'd want to do is crap on random strangers, particularly those entrusted to ease my passing (or, not).

Cancer, IMHO, excuses someone from some of the finer details of customs and courtesy ("What's that? My bony naked @$$ is flapping in the breeze because I forgot to tie the gown up on my way to the bathroom to puke from my chemo? Whatevs..."), but not from the Golden Rule.

You don't ever get a pass on being a decent human being.

Adversity builds character, but it also reveals it, and for those without any, it can be an unwelcome revelation that they lack any redeeming features, except to cheer other people up by their passing.

One is reminded of the quote attributed to Mark Twain, wherein he said "I did not attend his funeral. But I did send a nice note saying I approved of it."

Anonymous said...

Ditto what Aesop said. A friend who used to work in a nursing home once asked a lovely elderly woman how it was that she was not bitter like so many of the other residents. The answer was that if you are a bitter young woman, you will be come a bitterer old woman.

Most likely this fellow with cancer has been a pain in the butt to be around for quite some time, but now he thinks he has an excuse and is making liberal use of it. You are not the problem, and you should not feel bad that your feelings were hurt or that you do not have warm fuzzy feelings for the fellow.

Once I worked at a restaurant where I was fed up with a frequent patron who complained about everything at the restaurant. I asked my boss for permission to say something and was given the go ahead. The next time he began to go on about the poor food, poor atmosphere, poor whatever, I asked him why he came in if he was so dissatisfied? Honestly, he stopped complaining! I don't know how the powers that be would feel, but I am a firm believer in saying something.

rockygrace said...

This is what drives me crazy about that saying, "Don't judge someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes". Um, excuse me, I don't HAVE to walk a mile in someone's shoes to know that they're acting like a DICK, and there's no excuse for that. Sheesh.

girlvet said...

the question is why do they keep coming back?

a jerk is a jerk end of story