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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Doctors Day 8 Year 2


Doctors are part of my life.  I have a team I have come to trust and rely upon.  Building that team took a matter of years, and it is still evolving.  I believe that each of these doctors is truly invested in my well-being.  A find of epic proportions!  Two of my three children have also had considerable challenges with their health. Our family should have a banner out front saying, “We support Children’s Hospital in Boston.”  Docs there both have saved my childrens’ lives and put them back together again.  With the resilience of youth, they mended. 
Watching the steady return of my daughters to whole and fully independent lives has been a gift that managed to change me forever. I notice miracles constantly.  I feel that I have been blessed with a state of grace.  While I can not say that doctors wrought these miracles, doctors were sure on hand as they unfolded. 
While all this is true, the road to health has had its rocky passages.  Think Peruvian highway. My back was broken for ten years before an astute doctor reread the x-rays and saw the fracture.  I had been to many specialists at major medical centers all over the Northeast; it would be impossible to lay the responsibility for that mistake at any one doorstep. It was an example of catastrophic inattention to looking at the big picture.  Neurologists and orthopedic surgeons had been so focused on what images they saw on the MRIs and CTs, they overlooked the value of a simple x-ray.  For me, it was also a colossal lesson in forgiveness.
The misdiagnosis of my oldest daughter’s pulmonary disorder was due to the hubris of the chairman of a major city’s cardiac department (he felt it unnecessary to read the pulmonologist’s findings we relayed to him simply because the report was generated from western Massachusetts).  She spent seven years and countless winters with multiple pneuomonias.  She had to be -- literally, at death’s door -- for those doctors to sit up and listen. As a result of her pre-existing condition and aspergillus, her lung was resectioned and she underwent a hairy six weeks of chemotherapy.  She survived it all in tact and smiling.
My second daughter suffered from joint pain most of her childhood. Repeated visits to specialists caused them to wager - initially - that she was a malinger.  When they witnessed her dislocations of knees, hips, and shoulders, they realized something was different about her. It was around her twelfth surgery that she was properly diagnosed.  The two of us were lying side-by-side in bed at Children’s Hospital after her shoulder surgery. We decided to watch TV.  The channels are limited, so we chose Mystery Diagnosis. As the narrator described the life of the characters who were portrayed, we recognized ourselves.  We went from making fun and teasing about the woman spraining her wrists when she emptied dishwashers to a quiet-“are you kidding me?” feeling when we recognized ourselves.  The next day, as my daughter’s doctor made grand rounds, followed by about nine interns and residents, I asked the question.  “Could it be possible....We watched a show....“ I stammered out the question about the disorder we learned about the previous day.  He was quick to respond,
“But, of course, he said, “We thought you knew.”  Evaluations with geneticists and cardiologists confirmed our guess.  
So, yes, doctors are part of my life.  Not always the best part, but, for every doctor who made a mistake (Dawn, you will never have children) there have been two who pulled me -- or someone I love-- from the brink of an unknown precipice and made our lives happier, healthier, and more whole.  

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