Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What to Say, When to Say It

  • Perhaps a decade ago, I watched a TV episode of Cops. One of the incidents shown involved a young man who had a small amount of marijuana in his car. I don't recall what had caused a police officer to pull the young man over. In fact, it's been a long time and I can't give you all the details, only the flavor of the incident.

    Having found the marijuana, the officer asked the driver why he had it, and the response was that it was for personal use.

    The officer said something about "cops get killed" over marijuana related crimes, and the driver said, "I'm not into that."

    The officer persisted, saying that the driver was part of the chain that caused cops to get killed.

    The driver said something humble, the officer sprinkled the grass onto the ground, and sent the driver on his way.

    It occurred to me at the time that the "correct" response for the driver might have been something along the line of "Then they're getting killed for enforcing a bad law. Cops got killed enforcing prohibition, another bad law."

    For some reason this stayed with me, and a couple of days later I realized that if I'd been the driver, then even if my approach had "won" the argument, the marijuana and I probably would have gone to jail.

    Casting about for a third alternative, something between victory and defeat, I arrived at "I'd love to discuss this with you when you're off duty, but I think that in these circumstances I can only lose."

    Nope. Jail time again, I think. Even if I'm smarter than the driver, he was wiser than I would have been.

  • A dozen or so years ago I had my gall bladder removed. I went through what I imagine to be the usual drill - seeing the Admissions Nurse the evening before, getting instructions from her, filling out a questionnaire, etc.

    The latter should have been for a security clearance, so comprehensive was the list of questions. Included in the "Are You a Druggie?" section was an inquiry as to whether I currently smoked marijuana. I hesitated only a moment and decided that the last person on earth I wanted to deceive was the surgeon who was going to be poking around inside me on the morrow, and affirmed that indeed I was a marijuana smoker. After all, medical records are confidential, right?

    I returned the questionnaire to the nurse, who scanned it in microseconds. She weighed me and made an entry, took my blood pressure (Isn't sphygmomanometer a great word? And it represents pretty much all that I retain from high school physiology.) and made an entry, and had me sit down again. She told me where and what time to report in the morning, advised me to get as much sleep as possible, absolutely forbade the consumption of any liquids after midnight, and concluded with "And no marijuana!"

    A couple of weeks later I played back the above scene for brother Billy, who thought for a minute and said, "Yes, medical records are supposed to be confidential, but I think you'd have been better off answering 'no' on the questionnaire and then telling the surgeon about it in the morning. "

    And I think he was correct. Today I am long past caring about who knows that I still smoke grass, but in principle his would have been the better approach.


Anonymous said...

I always answer NO to any of those types of questions. Even if I was prescribed medical marajuana I would still say NO to any other DR along the way. BTW medical MJ is the best. Confidentiality is a bunch of bull shit.

BrokenDownProgrammer said...

Confidentiality may be BS, but worse than that, I think, would be lying to your surgeon about what's in your body.

Thnaks for posting, *and* for reading.

Anonymous said...

JMHO but if pot is all you do then I don't think it is too big a deal. I would think telling the surgeon directly would be the best way rather than checking the box on the admitting form. You and I both know if it is in writing it never goes away.