The rambling missive of the morning: To Dr. J

Dear Dr. J.,

You were right about one thing. You never came out and said it (at least to me), but the redness in your face when I verbally sparred with you in various staff meetings spoke volumes.

Oh yes, I am a troublemaker. A “nurse activist”, that’s the lingo. You knew that from the time I spent as a patient at ASU in 2001. You already knew what I, along with hundreds of other nurses, had already accomplished. You knew, yet you let them hire me anyway. Good for you for standing up for a former patient! Kudos!

Here’s a tip for the future. I knew going in to my deposition that I most likely wouldn’t be able to continue pursuing my case. We had already spent $4000.00, and we didn’t have the funds to continue. That said, I got exactly what I wanted.

I have my own words, spoken under oath, regarding the efforts other nurses and staff made over the years to improve safety, staffing and security at ASU. It is the truth, my truth. I wanted it on record for the specific purpose of sharing it. That is also why, most likely, the attorney for ASU kept trying to stop me from talking. He failed. Granted, he didn’t comprehend my intent. He thought I wanted money or (as odd as it seems), my old job back. Nope. It was pretty simple to lead your high-priced attorney around like a donkey chasing my carrot. Choose better next time.

I dressed rather poorly for the big event. Old, brown clogs (I told my attorney I forgot to change my shoes), clothes that hung on me despite my increased weight, and out-sized, goofy looking drugstore glasses. I didn’t bother to fix my hair. All of that was intentional, too. Your attorney underestimated me. That was my goal.

About that deposition…..perhaps Lakeview’s attorneys thought the inflated price of my deposition would stop me from obtaining it. However, they underestimated the power of the internet as well as the breadth and depth of friendships I have made in the online world over the years (decades, really.) Even I didn’t know they would be willing help me buy my own words. But they did. Oh yes, they did. It only took two weeks to raise the necessary funds.

At this point, let me say that you may well have been correct in some aspects of your final diagnosis of me. Yes. I am intelligent and calculating. I am patient, and I don’t mind waiting. Waiting unearths many truths. The one diagnostic area in which you erred was in your claim (according to the diagnosis you gave me), that I didn’t care about others. You were wrong. So very….wrong.

I care, deeply, about other nurses and nursing. You knew that when I was a patient at ASU. You knew that was a major part of the reason I was a patient there in the first place. You knew what my then-activism did to me. You knew what being told I would never work again as a nurse did to my heart, my soul. You knew.

Now, about nursing…..mentoring new nurses was one of the joys of my career. I don’t foresee a day when I will ever stop caring, even though I am now retired. At least I am finally free to tell my stories, share my truths. It is my hope that my experiences will help other nurses cope, understand and ultimately manage their own truths, including the stigma associated with mental illness.

You see, more and more health care professionals are speaking up about their struggles with mental illness, including PTSD related to working in health care. To that end, I have started a Facebook group for nurses and other medical professionals and technicians entitled “PTSD in Health Care Workers: The Epidemic.” Stop by and see us sometime.

I cared about my patients, too. You knew that when you wrote that sweet, little note of appreciation to me. You weren’t aware, but I kept that note from you on a special shelf in my living room for years. When I was confused or sad about a patient in my care, I re-read your note. Your note helped me stay grounded. I do thank you for that. Who knew that little note would someday become part of a court case?

You see, Dr. J, I idolized you, even though we often disagreed. You knew me, but you allowed me to work there anyway. You allowed me to use the gift of surviving an episode of severe, suicidal major depressive disorder to help others. Perhaps you viewed me, discreetly, as a success story. I expect you did. But in the end, you let me down. You broke my heart. Not Terry, not Libby, but YOU.

Without providing me the opportunity to confront the lies that were told about me that morning, you told me I gave “horrible, horrible care.” Your parting words rang in my head for months.

You were not present at that meeting to support me. You were there to crucify me, based on lies you were told. You were manipulated, Dr. J. Sadly, I expect you realize that by now.

Top of the morning to you, sir.

Melissa Franklin Brown

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