The Final Frontier: Nolo Contendere, Guilty, Part II of III

The Final Frontier: Nolo Contendere, Guilty, Part II of III
By Monette Benoit, All Rights Reserved.
September 16, 2013

Part I began: Court reporters are a disciplined breed. This is reinforced as I move through my professional and personal world.

“The final frontier” is a metaphor. I was encouraged to write this as I trolled this topic past professionals, court reporters, broadcast captioners, CART providers, instructors, and students that I am tutoring and coaching. Guilty.

Court reporters listen with laser focus. I have listened to individuals, doctors, speak – a lot.

When specialists have finished long sentences, often I am asked “Have any questions?”

Often, I shake my head.

When I am asked why I don’t have any questions I have replied, “The good news is that the patient does not have the diagnosis that you thought was causing the problem. The bad news is that you don’t know what’s causing the problem.”

Not often, the specialist asks, “How’d you do that?”

Rarely, will I share, “Degree in listening.”

Often, I reply, “I listened.”

Part II of II:

… When the ambulance arrived, Mom, on oxygen and hooked up to multiple machines, was crying. I needed to sign documents, “Hurry,” they said. Head down, I read the first paragraph. The first reaction I hear over and over and over? Deep sighs. Then I heard, “Just sign it. It’s important.”

I read until I saw “Patient Arrested.” I pointed to the line. Ambulance EMTs who were gowned for isolation with gloves and masks, and nurses in the room, abruptly inhaled.

Me: “Arrested? Define, please.” An EMT: “We’re in a hurry.”

Me: “No can do. Court reporter. Only time I see word ‘arrested,’ is with work. ‘Patient arrested’ … Not signing until defined.”

EMT: “Your mother arrested on the table. You’re not supposed to know. We’re not allowed to tell you. You need to sign. We must transport now; she needs isolation.” (Code for: “Hospital discharge policy was at 5:00 today, and it’s past 5:00 now.)

My court reporter discipline, in my opinion, appeared again. Guilty.

I will not be hurried when asked to sign documents. I quietly insist on reading every line. Though I wanted to toss their clipboard against the wall, I sat tall, silently, slowly, counting Mississippi-s until everyone was uncomfortable in the room.

Then I said, “Patient arrested? Yet I am not to be told, correct?”

“Yes. We have standby personnel due to her arrest, yet we could get sued for telling you.”

I did sign – after I read every line. No, they would not give me copies.

The final frontier involves deciding when to let others do their job and to stay on the sidelines, when to step forward.

I now listen to doctors discuss an eval; then I write three words.

Many ask, “Why only that?” looking to my notes.

I softly say, “Data driven.”

Thus far, that stumps everyone working to blow out of the room onto their next patient. Guilty.

Data driven. I listen to “we need to up meds” or “we need to wing-down.”

Watching professionals take Mom’s blood pressure the past few weeks I have again viewed the final frontier.

During symptom spikes, doctors do not return calls and nurses are in “report.” Serious side effects mean “it’s being monitored, and we’ll tell the next shift.”

Like many freelance and judicial court reporters, I have marked a lot of exhibits.

Details are important, yes? I have found multiple incorrect confidential documents for other patients, outdated and incorrect lab reports. I am not stunned anymore. I simply hold up the document(s) – which I was encouraged not to take the time to read. Guilty.

Due to multiple problems, recently I phoned a cardiologist for an outside visit after I watched professionals take Mom’s blood pressure. During the incident that created my call to the cardiologist, Mom’s BP reached 186/90, and a white-coat wearing specialist giggled, “Oh, she’s just upset.” In realtime, my focus shifted with my mother’s diagnosed afib and current diagnoses.

Reactions were swift once I phoned the cardiologist. Mountains were moved well under 24 hours. People were not happy. Oh well. Guilty.

Perhaps the D.O.N., Director of Nursing, phoned, “Perhaps you’re not satisfied with our care here.”

Perhaps I only listened. (Often I choose when to “word” engage. I chose not here. That call told me more about them than me.)

The final frontier. Nurses and staff now tell me, “You really do want to help your mother.” I avoid replying “gah” and am convinced it is our discipline. Guilty.

Court reporters are disciplined from school, each job, each event, and with each application with our skills.

Yet ask a medical person who is working with other medical people for a straight answer – and I am astonished to hear, “Just trust me – you need to sign this.” No.

The final frontier. Multiple individuals whisper, “You’re a textbook problem.”
Me, “How so?”

Patients with family who ask questions and want answers are called problems. “And you do want your questions answered. You listen and listen and listen while they talk themselves blue.” Guilty.

I remain stunned that medical professionals have said, “You help me to do a better job. Most people are too busy to ask questions. And it takes time to answer you. Yet your mother is alive because a family member picked up symptoms, behavior, and patterns quicker than staff.” Guilty.

The final frontier involves so many court reporters, CART providers, captioners, and students who share that they will not sign anything without reading every line, too. They insist on a copy of everything they sign, too. When they read documents to sign, everyone in the room sighs – while they calmly read, too. Discipline, yes. Guilty.

A high-profile official court reporter. “I took three hours to read mortgage papers. I took five hours signing a 15-year mortgage. When I bought a car on 24 installments, the dealer closed at 8 p.m. I left at 9:30 p.m. It drives my family crazy.” Nolo contendere.

We are not rattled when we are asking for information at work or at home, regarding a family member and advancing our skills. We listen.

We have no shortcuts to listening.

Part I of III is posted September 5, 2013, and
Part II of III is posted September 16, 2013, and
Part III of III is posted September 27, 2013, and

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