Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Are you honest with you?

Years ago, my daughter and I made a pact, promising to each other that we would always be honest. As a mother with one child in high school and the other in the hospital more than in junior high school, it was crucial. Often apart and surrounded by serious health care issues, my daughter needed to trust, without a doubt, that I was telling her the whole truth and vice versa.

By making that promise I discovered that in order to be honest with her, I had to be completely honest with myself first. Sounds simple enough until you’re in an extreme situation like the death of a child, which forces you to go deep inside your soul looking for answers to unimaginable questions. There, grace whispers, how honest are you with you?

At night, pretending to rest in a self created chair-bed next to Michael in his hospital bed, I would watch him sleep trying to contemplate life without him. It’s a scenario filled with heartbreaking thoughts and questions no parent should have to ponder. Even so, as Michael’s disease spun out of control, I knew earthly life without him wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.

That kind of reflection required a level of honesty that most of the time I avoided, which worked for a short time. Then our situation got to where I realized if I couldn’t be honest with the real truth held in my spirit, could I be honest with others, especially my daughter. Reluctantly, I let that soul searching question peel away layers of complicated emotions. Although an internal process it can also display itself externally in various ways while coping with the unknown. Despite my attempts to avoid it, then and now, I am consistently brought back to the same basic questions. Am I being honest with myself? Am I facing the truth, the whole truth and nothing but?

The patient and family perspective represented by Be the Change demands that same type of trust found in the pact I made with my daughter. It requires a commitment to the truth about our human and medical experiences, and the willingness to share them. Without a doubt it will include successes and failures. Respecting that commitment will lead us to a place where medical providers will feel safe to do the same because of new relationships, partnerships and value impacted by simple truth and honesty. Be the Change calls for monetary value to be given not only to experts with expansive titles, but also to patients and families with expertise schooled in another venue, which provided a unique title equivalent to any degree. In that type of fair financial exchange we will come to the table as patients, family members, and providers, elbow to elbow, as true equals in knowledge, insight and value.

Michael was very honest; sometimes in the wrong place and at the wrong time! Every Mother can understand what that's like. However, when he was being honest he challenged the rest of us to do the same, especially in the medical community. Be the Change keeps making progress by simply being honest, one new relationship and partnership at a time. In honor of Michael and all the ways he taught us to Be the Change.

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