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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
So this is my morning. 
8th-Nov-2010 09:55 am
Boondock/can't believe
Dear Headmaster [LASTNAME],

I received a call today from my daughter (Elayna [LASTNAME], a sophomore), who wasn't feeling well. Since she'd felt fine less than an hour ago, I told her to ask if she could rest in the nurse's office for a little while and see if her nausea passed. The conversation then became disjointed as the nurse started talking at her, and with an "I - what-" the phone was passed to the nurse; my impression is that my daughter was not prepared to have the phone taken from her.

The nurse, who never identified herself by name, began the conversation by demanding that I drive over and pick Elayna up. I said "I can't - I'm epileptic, and it's less than six months since my last seizure, so that's illegal and not safe." (State policy regarding seizure disorders: http://www.mass.gov/rmv/medical/policies/lossofco.pdf)

The nurse demanded that I do it anyway. Her tone of voice through the entire conversation was very loud and aggressive. I explained once again that that was unsafe and illegal and I cannot do it. I said that I would call my husband and see if he could come get her, but since he's at work, that might take about an hour. (We are a one-car household, and my husband and I both take the T to work.) I managed to get off the phone and left a message for my husband. As I was finishing my voicemail, the phone rang again.

She demanded that I take a taxi and told me that my daughter couldn't stay there. I told her that I did not have money for a taxi, and that I had called my husband. She demanded again that I get in my car and drive over. Throughout this whole conversation, her tone was nasty and aggressive; she implied at every turn that I was being a bad mother because I would not violate the law and put my child's life at risk. In the process, she fabricated a number of "symptoms" that my daughter, now home, has confirmed she did not have (fever, chills, et cetera).

There were three phone calls in total, each ruder than the last.

Each berating me for having a disability that made her job inconvenient.

I do not understand why she refused to let my daughter, whose only symptom was and is nausea, sit in her office for ten minutes with a cup of water. As far as I've always thought, that's a school nurse's job.

Beyond her refusal to let a mildly-nauseous student sit in her office for ten minutes, there is also the matter of how she treated me on the phone. She was incredibly rude, insensitive, and aggressive. She refused to be even slightly flexible or even give me time to call my husband.

But what's really upsetting is that she finds it acceptable to repeatedly harass a disabled person about her disability, and criticize her as a parent for the crime of having said disability.

Headmaster [LASTNAME], I wish I wasn't epileptic. Trust me, it would make my life a lot easier. This is a temporary inconvenience to your nurse (who seems to have taken it deeply personally), but it is a very large and lifelong inconvenience to me and my family. We work around it as best we can, and part of that simply involves the assistance of my non-disabled husband - who the nurse did not allow me time to contact, despite the fact that I told her that I was going to call him and call her right back. In fact, I missed the return call from my husband during her third call. Had she simply let me figure things out with him instead of calling three times in ten minutes, this would most likely have been settled to everyone's satisfaction.

As it is, I am very upset at the way I have been treated. I don't think this nurse is suited to communicating with *anyone*, and perhaps ought to not interact with the public. At the very least, I hope that you have some sort of disability-sensitivity training that she can go through. No parent - no person - should be treated like she treated me. I understand that she may not encounter people with disabilities often, but if nothing else, if a person with a disability gives her information regarding said disability, she should not ignore it. Had she listened, accepted that I cannot drive for medical and legal reasons, and not argued that I should put my daughter's life at risk and break the law - had she listened when I said "I need to call my husband; he may be able to come get her", and had she given me five minutes to do so - I would be much less frustrated and upset right now. The middle school nurse's reply when this situation arose in the past was simply "Okay." I don't understand why that's not what happened today.

Thank you for your time.


Unsaid: How dare she. And a lot of profanity.

You do not YELL AT ANYONE and make demands of them. Especially a person with a disability who CANNOT do what you are demanding and who is telling you that she is TRYING to work around that.

Because seriously. "I cannot do thing A. I am going to try thing B." "NO DO THING A." "I. Can't. But if you give me five minutes I can arrange thing B-" "NO DO THING A."

Insensitive disablist BULLSHIT.

Look. I'm epileptic. I was diagnosed in 2003, so I've had seven years to develop workarounds so we can all live a normal life. I work part-time because my anti-seizure drugs wear me out. I work one bus away from home so that when I do have a seizure - which only happens once or twice a year these days; this has been a banner year for brain 'splosions - I can still get to *work* during the six months that I'm legally not allowed to drive. We selected our house based on proximity to a hospital with a good neuro unit and buses that go to Cambridge and downtown Boston, so my life won't be unduly affected by my epilepsy before and after a seizure.

You have *no idea* the amount of *infrastructure* that goes into arranging my goddamn life around the epilepsy and my other physical issues. It is invisible to you because I do it damn well.

"Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal."
~~Albert Camus

It is rare that we run up against a situation that can't get handled immediately and smoothly without you even realizing that we've gone through more steps than the normal family. And if you just let me call my fucking husband, shit gets done. Why the hell is that such a problem?

It requires more work, navigating around disability. But I'm the one doing the work. So I do not get why that is such a fucking problem for anyone else.

So yeah, I'm livid right now. I sent the above, the pre-cussing section, to the headmaster, assistant headmaster, and Adam. I would *love* to see a response. I do dearly hope that the headmaster realizes that having an articulate, pissed-off disabled mom on his hands is a thing that needs dealing with. With a swiftness. I am not demanding firing. But if she doesn't get put in a disability-sensitivity training, I'll be going to our local newspaper.

And yeah this was supposed to be my writing day.

So. Yeah. HI.

* Still no response (as of 11:30).
* Background: Elayna has a history of mild morning malingering when I am home and can ostensibly pick her up. (How do I know? Because it only happens when I'm working 1-5. I've never gotten an "I don't feel well" call at the office.) This time, she genuinely isn't feeling well, but it's headache/fatigue/nausea, not chills and fever. Not that that excuses the way the nurse acted. Either way I'll stay home with her today, and go to Peer Supe when Adam gets home.
* When Adam checked his voicemail, got the "I am pissed off you deal with the nurse" message, and called the nurse, she was sweet as pie to him. He very much scans this as sexist - that the nurse will be aggressive and demanding with the mother, but has the attitude of "oh no, we cannot disturb the father at work!"
8th-Nov-2010 02:56 pm (UTC)
Oh good grief. The nurse needed a clue-bat. And yes, please write to the local papers!
8th-Nov-2010 02:58 pm (UTC)
If the headmaster handles it appropriately, I don't feel like I need to go to the papers - hopefully they'll come down on her like a ton of bricks and she will never do it again. If it *doesn't* get handled appropriately, hell yeah I'm going to the papers. Hell, I've been asked to write a column for one of them.
8th-Nov-2010 02:58 pm (UTC)
What the fucking fuck. I've been treated with far more patience and kindness for not being able to pick up my sick kid when the only thing wrong with me was I was at work, in the same town. The nurses never had a problem with me calling someone else. There was absolutely no reason for her to treat you like that, and yes, Elayna should have been able to sit there for a few minutes--my kids have done the same many times.

I hope you get the swift and apologetic response you deserve.
8th-Nov-2010 03:00 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Ten minutes. Ten minutes is too much? Was I interrupting her Farmville game or something?
8th-Nov-2010 03:01 pm (UTC)
I also vote for the clue by four. Repeatedly applied.
8th-Nov-2010 03:01 pm (UTC)
I hope the headmaster reacts appropriately -- that is, groveling to you and ton-of-bricksing the nurse. I have NEVER encountered a situation where a nurse wouldn't let a kid sit in the office. Hell, when I was in school, a nurse insisted I stay in her office for HOURS before she would call my parents (my sprained ankle wasn't swelling, so she, I assume, thought I was malingering).
8th-Nov-2010 03:04 pm (UTC)
If that headmaster knows what's good for him, that nurse is toast. Not even for the fear of bad publicity from you--but because someone like that has no business as a school nurse. Period.

Edited at 2010-11-08 03:04 pm (UTC)
8th-Nov-2010 03:06 pm (UTC)
This is a new headmaster, so I don't yet know how he's likely to respond.
8th-Nov-2010 03:07 pm (UTC)
*furious angry rage*
8th-Nov-2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't want that nurse anywhere near my kid if he was sick.

If she treats the parents with so little courtesy and respect, how does she treat the kids?
8th-Nov-2010 04:09 pm (UTC)
This. A sick kid needs patience to deal with. This woman showed absolutely none. Also, I can't imagine she's any more caring to a child with disabilities and it is her job to help them.
8th-Nov-2010 03:20 pm (UTC)
Wow, WTF? And she's a nurse? Mindboggling.
8th-Nov-2010 03:22 pm (UTC)
You have *no idea* the amount of *infrastructure* that goes into arranging my goddamn life around the epilepsy and my other physical issues. It is invisible to you because I do it damn well.

THIS!!! Oh, I'm thinking terribly unkind thoughts about that nurse. And I like nurses.
8th-Nov-2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
I. I just.

8th-Nov-2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
This is just so gross, and I'm sorry you had to deal with it.
8th-Nov-2010 03:28 pm (UTC)
Seriously what the hell? In what world is anything this nurse did a good idea?

Normally, I like school nurses. They have that kind of low-grade thankless job (especially highschoolers) because really, dealing with the crap they get to deal with is just special.

...but man, what the hell crawled up her ass and died?
8th-Nov-2010 03:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the thing that's most confusing to me is: WHY was she acting like that? Did she think that you were a deadbeat parent who demands that her kid downplay illness? It's just so weird.

Honestly I hope her ass gets canned. Insensitive people who don't know how to listen have no business in childcare.
8th-Nov-2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
Gah. What bullshit. Who pissed in her cornflakes? Talk about a person who should know better.

I hope the Headmaster responds quickly and thoroughly. I hope you get an apology and this crap does not happen again. And making up symptoms? WTF?

8th-Nov-2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
What the ever-loving fuck?

I know you said you don't want firing, but any nurse who acts that hoggish and ignorant about a medical condition has no business being in the profession.

Really hope the Headmaster is less of an asshat.
8th-Nov-2010 03:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah. This one needs a whap upside the head with the massive Clue By Four.

How on the face of this planet is someone who has been through ANY nursing training that much of a jackass to someone who explains they're disabled?

Why am I getting the feeling that some neglectful parents have used the "I'm disabled and can't legally do what you're asking" rationale to excuse their bad parenting before? Still, I would think that unless it's absolutely illegal to even note it as a practical matter, the fact that you're epileptic might be noted somewhere for reference on Elayna.

Kicketh ass and taketh names!
8th-Nov-2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
Still, I would think that unless it's absolutely illegal to even note it as a practical matter, the fact that you're epileptic might be noted somewhere for reference on Elayna.

This. I don't know if the school can actually do that, since there are all sorts of HIPAA considerations, but it's definitely something to look into.
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