Click. Dial tone.
“Did he just hang up on me? Oh, no, he didn’t!” I sputtered.
Anger surged through me. No one had ever hung up on me before. Especially a doctor. In the middle of me trying to express my confusion and question about the process of his clinic with long-term kidney transplant recipients as myself, he had hung up. His poor administrative assistant was the brunt of my fury as I clamored, “I do not care if you are the President of the United States of America! You do not hang up on people! That is the rudest thing you can do to anyone!”
Desperate and upset, I called my regular nephrologist who was like Santa Claus in a white coat rather than red suit. I was his patient for at least five years after departing from my pediatric nephrologist for over 20 years and another nephrologist for 2 years that had forgotten what transplant I received—yikes, to say the least! Santa Claus nephrologist and I had always been in complete collaborative mode to maintain my second kidney transplant. I pictured him nodding in agreement and even enthusiasm and open arms for me to return to being his patient again. Imagine my shock and dismay when I received his voicemail, “Mary, it wouldn’t be good for your health and kidneys to return back to me because you need to be followed with a transplant center in the long term. Give this doctor another chance.”
Why was it that I was always fighting with doctors and nurses? Why were doctors and nurses always rejecting me as their patient? Was it me? One of my friends who had known me for years and probably knew me better than myself once said to me: “Mary, a ‘normal’ patient listens and does whatever the doctor says. You aren’t a ‘normal’ patient with asking all these questions that doctors and nurses see as problematic or challenging.”
My stubborn response, “Well, that’s their problem. Not mine. Over 30 years with kidney bean battles. My body. My life. My pre-owned beans. I fight for them.”
Something unsettling began to take shape as I listened to my previous nephrologist’s voicemail repeatedly. In his calming and almost fatherly voice, I heard something he was trying to say without really saying it. “Give him another chance.”
How many times had I not given a doctor or really anyone for that matter another chance because the one thing he/she said or did pissed me off resulting me to run away rather than confront and be honest with what really bothered me? How come it takes so much time to build up a relationship with anyone and then it will be just one thing that will be the downfall of it? How many times had I tried to escape when I could not from what I had to face or deal with in life? Too many times. I lost count. The doctor had hung up on me, but was I any better than him by leaving instead of facing him and telling him what he did had really bothered me?
There are many circumstances in life that we have no choice but to face off with and deal with when running away, leaving, escaping, and hiding are not options or even in the life equation. There is no time or energy for questioning, analyzing, wondering, and waiting when given the only choices but to survive and thrive. People will stare at you in awe and exclaim: “How do you do it?” Your response: “You just do it.” These are actually the easy circumstances in life. Your natural instincts kick in and you kick whatever ass you need to and do what you have to.
Then, there are circumstances in life when you are given too many choices that often result in questioning of and especially the timing of when to confront or leave and let go. As a child, I tried to run away and escape from my problems—literally and figuratively. I ran away from home twice as a little girl with my sister’s small red suitcase that I stole when my parents’ fights got too loud and abrasive for my overly sensitive ears and mind to handle. I was a guilty party of hanging up on people, slamming doors in faces, and walking away when an escalating argument was ensuing and brewing. I had switched and changed doctors and nurses as an unhappy patient without ever telling the doctor/nurse what had upset me. I would drop people without full and clear explanations of why I was doing this.
All this time, I thought I was fearless in facing and dealing with what I had to—and I was and am, but that is because I had no choice with those circumstances. However, when given the choices and in difficult encounters with people, I had run away without words of reasoning and explaining all out of fear of confrontation with the other and, most of all, honesty and confrontation with myself.
As I’ve gotten older, all of this is slowly changing. This one ‘hang up’ from a doctor made me to realize how much I had ‘hung up’ on others without words and reasoning to them with what had upset me. The most intriguing part about ‘hang ups’ is that it is a way to try to disconnect and escape but you end up dwelling and getting even more ‘hung up.’
I was definitely ‘hung up’ on all of this with the transplant nephrologist hanging up on me. Upon this realization of the time I hung up on others, I wrote a lengthy email to this transplant nephrologist and his nurse practitioner outlining my questions and confusion and in regards to my impression of him hanging up on me. Within minutes, this transplant nephrologist called me back immediately to explain and answer my questions and alleviate my confusion. There was no apology that came from his lips, but I knew that I was on back on track with him just from my honesty and, especially, giving people and even or particularly doctors chances because we are all human and flawed.
When have you ‘hung up’ on others without letting them know? What encounters have had you ‘hung up’ on? Are you confrontational and unafraid to tell others what you really think and feel?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,