Friday, June 06, 2008

Stick to your specialty

Little vent here ... if you're not a friend, and not a religious/counseling/therapy professional, don't share your "wisdom" with someone going through something outside your experience.

Case: just got off the phone with a nurse from our insurance company. Apparently if you're going through a Really Big Thing, a nurse calls to see if you're getting what you need, healthcare-wise. Asks questions about diagnosis and treatment. Fair enough.

But, not once, but multiple times, she felt the need to offer editorial comment on non-medical issues. Like how children going through this seem to somehow understand more than we adults do, (ha*!). Or this gem:

Nurse: Well, how are your other children doing with all this?
Me: Well, it's hard. They're having to give up a lot -- vacation, summer camp, birthday parties (because of germs).
Nurse: Well, I'm sure that their little sister is their top priority and they understand why this is all necessary and they understand that this isn't forever.

Really? Really? Okay, in addition to the fact that you don't have personal experience with siblings and cancer, you apparently also have no experience with children, period. They love their sister, but this morning (first day of summer vacation), my almost-6 year old wants to go to the pool. And can't understand that her sister is neutropenic and so we can't go to the grocery store, let alone immerse ourselves in water along with tons of other individuals who might be sniffling, scratching a rash, etc.

In any case, this nurse did, once again, remind me of the #1, most important tip for pastoral care:

Shut up.

* BS. If that were true, I wouldn't be having to spend so much time trying to explain to LW why we have to go there, why I let them "poke" her, why why why. And she wouldn't be trying to "normalize" this through applying it to others, such as saying that her big brother was a baby when he got cancer. "No, honey, he never had cancer." Well, The Princess was a baby when she had cancer. "No, honey, she never had it." Well, my mama was a baby when she had cancer. "No, honey, I never had cancer. Only you."

But of course, this all stems from the erroneous belief that only saintly little children, wise for their age, get life-threating diseases. Because if that's the case, then we don't have to worry about our own little brats.


ms. kitty said...

Sheesh. Just sheesh. People can be so stupid.

Earthbound Spirit said...

Oy. Buy a clue, nurse!
LW - What you & your family are going through is WAY out of my experience. I don't know how you cope & I sure don't have any wisdom to share. But I can hold you in the light, and keep looking for another chance to put love into action...

Earthbound Spirit said...

Ack - I hate when I hit "enter" before completely proofreading. That should be "LE" not "LW"

Ms. Theologian said...

The idea to say something "pat" as a response can be so offensive. I was just hoping she didn't top it off by using my personal favorite, "I understand how you feel."

Robin Edgar said...

FYI Religious/counseling/therapy professionals, including U*U ministers, share all kinds of dubious "wisdom" with people going through something outside of their experience or belief system that is offensive and even harmful and damaging. . . I will spare you from citing examples of such unwanted and unhelpful "wisdom".

goodwolve said...

Did you just sock her in the mouth... I usually just seem stunned by people and what comes out of their mouths. I am completely unable to tell them what I AM REALLY thinking. Wish I could sometimes.

Masasa said...

Wowzers! Buy a clue for sure! Yes, and obviously has never encountered a child in her life. She gets paid for that, hmmm???

Shelby Meyerhoff said...

Yes, that unsolicited "wisdom" is a pain in the ass. How frustrating.