Oct 17 2013

At What Cost Do We Help Another? – Vol. 123, October 20, 2011

There are times in our life when we need to ask some serious questions as health care providers. I had a situation that occurred recently which really hit me where I live. You all know that the economics of today are difficult for many, my self included. However, there are times when one must consider the larger question of why it is that we do what we do.

I was given a referral for a smoking cessation case. To give you a better understanding of this whole situation you need to know that my usual and customary price for the one session treatment that I do with an excellent rate of success is $300.

I called the referral who was at home to get the details of her situation to find out if she would even be a viable case. As a hypnotist I am looking for clients who are able and willing to do the work that is required for them to get their results. In this case I needed to know that this client was wanting to stop smoking of her own accord and was ready to do so during our session. To be more honest about how this all works, the decision to become a non-smoker needs to happen before the client ever enters my office.

What I heard on the phone was a woman who could barely breathe, with a very significant wheeze in her voice as she struggled to breathe. I asked her why she wanted to stop smoking and was told that three days previous that she was diagnosed with COPD also known as emphysema. She hadn’t shared this diagnosis with any of her family or friends feeling a failure for not stopping smoking right after her heart attack about a year ago. She had a stent put in an artery of hers that was 95% blocked.

I asked her if she was ever hypnotized before and she answered “yes”. She was pregnant with her first child and was smoke free for seven years after as a result of a group hypnosis program where she felt it shouldn’t have worked and yet it did.

Then she went on to tell me that she really wanted and needed this service and yet money was an issue for her. She really didn’t have any and yet she knew that without the hypnosis she would most certainly die. This woman is all of 52 years of age and has a business she wants to build and yet without the energy required it was never going to be.

I asked her how much she could afford. She said $100. I felt in my heart of hearts that I could not in good conscious send her away for not having the full funds. I knew after 10 years of being in practice and never taking a sliding fee for a smoking cessation case that this one felt different then all the others who claim to not have the money and yet in the back of my mind I know they do. I also realized that with so many people who have called in during the years, some attached to an oxygen machine already, unwilling to pay the money or most likely not interested in giving up their habit maybe because they felt they had a life sentence anyway, that this woman was different. It is just a feeling one gets.

I gently told her I would take on her case. Upon hearing the news she broke down in tears as she thanked me for taking her on for without my help she would surely be dead in a fairly short period of time.

What I want you all to understand is that as a business person I can’t very well make my own bills if I am going to cut my fees. On the other hand I want you to understand that there are indeed those cases when you realize that you have a skill that could save a person’s life. With that in mind one needs to make a decision that one can live with.

I remember many years ago when I worked in my father’s dental office his doing a similar thing for people who truly needed his skill set. He told me as we sat in his office after a long day of work, that one who has a skill that can make a difference in somebody else’s life needs to use that skill to create hope for those who we can. It is a matter of being a creator of good in our community. I also realize that through out my life I have been given many chances to move forward in my life that would not have been possible without the kindness of others. I count my own mental health treatment at a very reasonable $10/session when we didn’t have any health insurance and my health insurance being willing to cover about $300,000 in proton therapy treatment for the brain tumor to be treated a couple of years ago. My life was not in danger though my mind was.

I bring this up because it seems to me that people have gotten very greedy and nasty in this economic climate that we find ourselves in. Too many of us in this world are all for themselves forgetting that without the love and care of others we too would be alone and lost. It is a reminder for those of us who may be having a difficult time currently, that we can still share our heart with another and at the same time bring some humanity back to the living. Perhaps we can even bring another chance at life back to someone who deserves it as my client who had spent 28 years of her life treating addicts in a non-profit mental health program till they had to let her go for lack of funding. We must always remember that we create the world that we are in based on our own actions.

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