Monday, June 23, 2014

No Conflict

Brianna has end stage renal disease.

That's when the kidneys stop working.

Brianna has already had two transplants and is in line for a third.

She's 18 and doesn't look sick. She doesn't act sick. She just seems like a normal recent high school graduate.

But going to The Painted Turtle camp has been, except for last year when fires in the area torched the camp grounds, a very welcome, exciting, annual event for her since she was little.

Painted Turtle is a free camp for children, ages 6-17, with serious medical issues. A week of kids with similar fates in life getting together to share joyful moments without the trappings of regular, daily, difficult life.

Camp and kids are a routine summer activity. The kids get away from parents and visa-versa. Everyone has a magical week of vacation from the daily travails. I remember my camping days with fondness, and I'm sure most of us do. Imagine the life of a child with a serious medical condition - summer camp has got to be a short wonderful Shangri-La.

Brianna wasn't going to be a camper though - she's 18. But she was excited to participate as a counselor-in-training (she had another term for it but I can't remember).

Getting Brianna to the camp was a matter of serendipity. Two days before the California Society of Industrial Medicine and Surgery convention in Sacramento this past week I noticed a plea for an Angel Flight West transport originating out of Sacramento to Lancaster - this was Brianna's request.
Brianna is holding her little sister...
I was scheduled to speak at the CSIMS convention and my plan was to fly N6641M up to Sacramento for my scheduled slot and then return that afternoon - taking a passenger along the way back down was perfect timing!

The social mission is uncomplicated, at least at the donation level. In this case, show up with an airplane and transport someone in need.

There isn't a business mission to conflict with - at the ground (okay, sky) level, there's only one thing to accomplish: the safe transportation of this 18 year old girl. It's about as pure a mission can get.

Unlike workers' compensation, where the business mission gets in the way of the social mission. Businesses cheat on their workers' compensation obligations; government conflicts with employers about various requirements that may or may not make sense from either the social or the business mission perspective; circulating money to cover risks involves complex management commitments which can steer objectives off course; and of course there are court rulings and illegal shenanigans to contend with - all of these are born out of business missions that are at odds with the social mission.

After I got done talking to the doctors and other medical professionals attending the CSIMS lunch break about my family, open rating, Unicover, SB 899 and SB 863 (no, I don't see a rosy picture for the future of California workers' compensation - which is what the folks in the audience wanted to know) it was time to get Brianna down to camp.

Though some rearranging had to be done to accommodate my schedule, everything went as planned - I arrived at KSAC exactly at 2 p.m., as promised to Brianna's mom, and Brianna and her step father, and brother and sister, were waiting.

Hunter, Brianna's youngest brother, was interested in seeing the plane, particularly from the cockpit with all the switches and dials.

Brianna's youngest sister, Sun, wasn't interested in much at all.

Which is ironic because Brianna during flight told me that Hunter wasn't interested in flying at all and that her sister was the polar opposite.

The flight was uneventful. We experienced some turbulence as we descended into the Lancaster area over the mountains, which I expected and which didn't bother Brianna one bit though she had told me that on another flight she had felt a little green.

We arrived exactly as estimated - pulling up to the terminal at KWJF at 4:30 p.m. (I love to be punctual). Awaiting Brianna were a couple of camp counselors, themselves having obvious medical and disability issues, ready to whisk her off to the camp.

Though Brianna's mom had advised that Brianna was introverted and a minimal conversationalist, there wasn't any shortage of communication between us. The entire flight was filled with conversation. I explained to her procedures through the entire phase of flight, taught her how to help me out on the radios, and answered her geography questions as we passed over various landmarks.

She told me things about herself and her family - her mom was an Irish immigrant, and she has a brother and other relatives still in Ireland. She enjoys hunting and fishing with her step father, particularly hunting pheasant, which she also likes to eat.

I told her about my daughter's recent graduation from Humboldt State University and Brianna told me about her friends that got accepted and will be attending there, and her last family vacation where they visited and camped in the redwoods there.

She was a delightful passenger. She did not evidence any hint of entitlement or sorrow for herself. She was just enjoying life as much as possible. She was looking forward to counselor training and working at the camp.

Brianna was just going to live life as much as she could.

Brianna's mom emailed me after I confirmed Brianna's safe arrival at Gen. William J. Fox Field: "There is one picture that captured her smile as she was in the cockpit and I haven't seen it for a very long time, pure unbridled happiness."

This is what happens when the social mission doesn't conflict with the business mission.

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