Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Fork in the Road - To Be (Suing) or Not To Be (Suing)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A critical fork in the road of my journey now stands before me.  It became apparent to me last night when I attempted to have a civil and productive conversation with my father.  It did not go well.

One of my primary goals in my life right now is to resolve the outstanding issues I have with my father.  Last month I emailed my father to inform him of my diagnosis of PTSD.  I specifically used email as my means of communication because I wanted to have written documentation of my communications with him.  This seemed a wise course of action in the event that future interactions devolved into something less than civil.  Looking back I am happy I proceeded in this way.  The outcome of my conversation with him last night was less than optimal.  It reinforces my opinion that I should only permit interactions in which there is documentation of what was said.

I made it clear early in our conversation that I preferred to not have a conversation with him by phone.  In fact, I made it more clear than that.  I indicated I wanted any conversation we had to occur within the context of an objective third person party who could help facilitate the interchange.  I also indicated I felt very uncomfortable not adhering to my own wishes in this regard.  Despite my articulation of these sentiments my father probed and asked questions.  My expressed wishes seemed to mean little to him.  It is interactions with him such as these that only reinforce my sense that something is seriously wrong with the way he sees the world.  I have previously articulated to friends and family that I believe my father has an untreated case of PTSD.  Assuming I am correct I can easily believe such an untreated condition would warp his way of relating to the world at large.

On more than one occasion I felt so provoked by my father's stance that it took a lot of my own energy and will to not react in such a way that it would only further exacerbate an already difficult situation.  We concluded our "conversation" by making an agreement that my father would give my request for mediation some more thought.  He agreed to call me this weekend to tell me his final decision.  My intuition is that he is going to remain firm in his opposition.

Having pondered the very real possibility that he will remain resolute in his refusal I have considered what I would do next.  I am inclined to inform him that I would therefore choose not to be a part of his life anymore.  I might even directly tell him not to consider me his son anymore because I would no longer consider him my father.  I suppose I might not even choose to be there for him on the day he dies if it were feasible for me to do so.

There is then the "nuclear option" I have been looking at more recently.  Beyond ending all active interaction I could attempt to press forward with a legal case against him.  I could attempt to pursue damages to force some support for the PTSD treatment I am currently undertaking.  A court case, even if determined viable by a worthy lawyer, could prove extremely costly in time and money.  And then there is the emotional capital I would have to expend in the process.  I might ultimately end up causing more harm to myself than whatever benefit I might derive from such a course of action.  This would be a serious decision I would need some time to contemplate.

I should know this weekend what the fork in the road ultimately is.  Then I will need to decide which path to take.

The following is a letter I composed and submitted online today to the hospital where my father was taken when he was shot.

Parkland Hospital
5201 Harry Hines Blvd.
Dallas, TX 75235

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing in regards to medical treatment my father received in early June, 1982 at Parkland Hospital.  My purpose in writing this letter is to increase my understanding of the standard of care at Parkland Hospital that existed then as well as now.  My reason for wanting to develop said understanding is that I feel it might help me to facilitate and improve my own healing process.  An explanation of my background is necessary.

In June of this year I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I was surprised by this diagnosis.  I have received quality health care from a number of mental health care professionals over the years; I thought my past efforts to take care of my health had been sufficiently robust such that my health was better than it ultimately was.  Thankfully I am in good physical health however.  My PTSD can be attributed primarily to child abuse and endangerment I experienced while under my father’s care.

As I have begun the process of reframing my life in response to my recent diagnosis I have made a number of changes.  One project I have undertaken to cultivate a greater sense of peace is research regarding my own past medical history as well as my father’s medical history.  Despite my desire to look at my father’s medical record I am unable to do so due to legal limitations.

Though I am by no means an expert on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder I do feel I have researched it enough to have a basic understanding of its common causes, symptoms and treatment.  My father was brought into Parkland Hospital in early June, 1982 with a gun shot wound to the chest.  According to his recounting to me many years later my father was shot by a teenage boy who was involved in an inappropriate relationship with my stepmother.  The boy shot my father on my stepmother’s behalf.  Prior to the ending of my father’s marriage to my stepmother I experienced significant verbal and physical abuse due to the actions of my older stepsisters.  As I understand from my father’s recounting, the mayor ensured that the police department did not investigate the crime properly which thus allowed my stepmother to evade prosecution.  I have been unable to get a copy of the police report of the incident in question.  However, record of the incident does still exist in a local newspaper dated June 4, 1982.  I have a PDF copy of the newspaper coverage in my possession.

In my opinion, based on my research of PTSD, attempted murder is a highly traumatic event that could easily trigger the development of PTSD.  It has been my opinion for some time now that my father developed PTSD (at some point in his life) no later than the days immediately after the day he was shot, namely June 3, 1982.  He was a member of the Army prior to 1982.  He might have had some experience in the military that proved traumatic that he has never shared with anyone.  I can only speculate in regards to that earlier time in his own life.

Nearly losing my father to such a horrible act is but one traumatic experience in my own personal history that could easily trigger the development of my case of PTSD.  It is also my opinion that my father’s judgment was so clouded by the impact of his near murder that he later made at least one choice that put me at great risk of harm.  I consider it miraculous that I am still alive today given what I experienced in my childhood.

I am contacting Parkland Hospital today, some 31 years later, because I want to find some way to create healthy closure in my own life so I can heal properly and move forward.  I would like to understand what the standard of care was at Parkland Hospital both in 1982 and now in regards to patients brought into the Emergency Room with life threatening injuries in which the injury is a result of domestic violence and/or premeditated attempted murder. In the particular scenario from my own life I believe it would have proven highly beneficial if my father’s emergency room assessment had included some sort of psychiatric consult to determine his state of mind in the wake of the attempt made on his life.  Perhaps such a consult was performed; I do not know the details of his treatment because, as I previously noted, I do not have access to the record of his treatment from this incident.  I also do not trust that any recounting my father might provide me now would be accurate because my father has a history of being dishonest.  I believe an aggressive assessment of his mental health and an insistence that he receive at least some minimal mental health counseling as a pre-condition for his discharge from the hospital might have helped prevent what would follow later on.  I do not understand what exactly was done; I wish that I had more information.  I do not believe he was sufficiently fit to take custody of me again once he was discharged from Parkland Hospital.

My understanding is that very little was known about PTSD in 1982 anywhere in the United States of America.  I know that this diagnostic category was originally conceived as a way to describe symptoms commonly found in military veterans.  I would like to be directed to some resources that could help me to fashion an understanding of what the standard of care is today (and what it was in Texas in 1982) regarding people who enter an emergency room setting with traumatic life threatening injuries in which such injuries are the result of deliberate attempts on their lives.

Naturally it is not clear to me who might be the most knowledgeable person to seek out within Parkland Hospital now in 2013 to answer my questions.  I thought it best for me to start my research by sending a general letter through the hospital’s website.

I appreciate any assistance whatsoever that may be rendered to me in response to my request.



No comments:

Post a Comment

I invite you to accompany me as I document my own journey of healing. My blog is designed to offer inspiration and solace to others. If you find it of value I welcome you to share it with others. Aloha!