The Paradox of Caring: When the Truth Doesn’t Matter

Controversial shootings. Angry, vengeful, solution seeking counteractions put into place by individuals that fervently believe that the actions they carry out will right some wrong.
The specifics, discovering the real facts that ignited the Dallas, Falcon Heights and Baton Rouge deaths begs most of us to want to know the truth. For those involved and for all of us on the periphery, most Americans are looking for answers to how and why these deaths occurred. Interviewed victims implore that others will not have to suffer as they have and beg that the truth be exposed. Communities throughout America look for answers to prevent, prepare or interrupt a sequel of this citizen against citizen wave to not strike their “homeland.”
Except for one group of people in America, the facts, the truth doesn’t matter at all.
To healthcare workers, the perpetrators of violence, innocent victims or the cascade of collateral damage that someone’s violence puts into motion, the veracity of what happened prior to them coming in for care cannot be viewed as being necessary or of value to us when we provide care. On a daily basis the circumstance of how the naked, bleeding, suffering person ended up being any of our patients isn’t made easier with knowing why. The paradox of caring in healthcare is that most physicians and nurses chose our respective roles precisely because we cared. This caring; the compassion and the physical skills we provide our patients, all has a unique boundary. A boundary of inclusion, not exclusion.
Discovering the facts implies a level of revealing and possibly understanding someone else’s reality. But where there are variations of what is true, disagreements result and open the door to judgments being made. After forming a judgment, looking for someone to blame often follows. With blaming comes the belief that some type of punishment is justified.
In many ways, healthcare workers are the lucky ones because our jobs get easier when we don’t have to consider variations of truth. We may question a patient’s description of the events that brought them in to be seen (to ensure that we are gathering all of the information needed to provide them the most optimal care) but stopping the processing of this information before characterizing someone as being good or bad, is what all of us deserve when we are in the patient role. We all want competent, compassionate care. Not some of the time, but all of the time. This is often easier to deliver when the truth is not known.

Juliana Adams
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