What Is A Proper Apology?

What Is A Proper Apology?


I offer this letter from UNC as an example of an apology. I’ve had it nearly a week and read it dozens of times as I’ve pondered if perhaps it’s just me that is at fault. I’ve decided it’s not, but I am open to kind criticism. I’ll explain why I find fault with this apology. And let me say that I find no fault with the letter writer, she was honest and truthful in offering the ridiculousness that two doctors provided. The content is the problem, very clearly and I am appreciative the author believes in truth even when it’s offensive.

An apology should not be a he said, she said document. I stated I felt disrespected as a mother, a special needs mom desperate for answers. The doctor said I simply was annoyed with his disagreeing with my suggestions. I made no suggestions so this is puzzling. I did disagree with his suggestions though. I scoffed at his recommendation of videotaping Amos’ eyes doing a funny flutter. The idea of me chasing Amos with my phone on a Saturday when my husband was home to help (his suggestion) still leaves me tickled. I also disagreed with his suggestion of physical restraint, a papoose, for an EEG, twenty minutes of him screaming and Dr. Tennison’s comfort for a scared mother was, “he won’t remember it.”

Dr. Hunter’s input is interesting since Dr. Hunter was very much a she and is referred to as a he in this letter. The room was dirty and I’m not a germaphobe. There was quite a bit of hair on the floor and several bottles of closed cleaning solution under the sink. Amos played in there because over an hour of waiting with no books or toys left us desperate. Perhaps the visit was professional, I’m not sure what that means but it did feel very clinical. Compassionate? No, absolutely not. Near tears, I told him I was desperate for knowledge and his response, “I don’t know what you want me to say.” Compassion may come in many shapes and forms but a mama, stuck in a room for over an hour, did not feel she encountered sensitivity.

A proper apology is just that, I am sorry. No buts, no arguments, no insinuating that a mother offered untruths. I hope this is not standard fare for UNC hospitals and I’d like to tell them that a proper apology, in my opinion, leaves one feeling heard and encouraged that change will occur. I adored the UNC School of Dentistry and so, we shall continue on there, but tell Dr. Tennison goodbye.

Goodbye, Dr. Tennison.

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