Wednesday, August 3, 2011

#85 - Doctors, Nurses, Waiting Rooms and Heros

I am so thankful for the good doctors in my life. Of course, I've had mostly extraordinary nurses in my history with Addison's disease. The waiting rooms are not so much fun, but I've learned to make the most of them by bringing my journal and a good book...just so I can alternate between the two.

Today, my youngest daughter and I went to the cardiologist together. I love my cardiologist. Well, I love him in the manner that is fitting of loving someone with great respect and admiration after they've saved your life, literally.

Dr. Nadir Ali saved my life in 2001. After visiting too many clinics, doctors, hospitals and on and on and on, for many long months, I ended up in the hospital and in the direct care of Dr. Ali. After I coded, he used his brain to put my symptoms together and that determined cerebral power led him to rapidly order very unique tests to determine my rare medical condition.

Within hours, I was being given life-saving medicine and the end of my life was gratefully extended for much, much longer. In fact, I am approaching my ten year anniversary since my diagnosis. Within two months, it will have been ten years since Dr. Ali went beyond textbook knowledge to explore his impressive brain for a answer befitting a true physician, an authentic healer and remarkable man.

Anyway, today, my daughter and I drove the entire way to the cardiologist's office, but we were told at the receptionist's window that our appointments had been cancelled, as of last week, after the Dr. decided he better hurry and take a trip with his kids before school resumed. Wow, he is a life-saving physician and he actually takes time out of his extremely hectic life to take a vacation.

As a doctor of his caliber, it must not be easy to fit in personal time. I'm sure he looks at all the patients who are in such bad shape and he must feel, at times, that he simply can't keep up. Then, I hope he remembers the time when he saved the life of a 33 year old woman who had two young daughters and a devastated husband watching their mom and wife disintegrate before their eyes...without any answers...until Dr. Ali came on the scene.

I wonder if his children know that their daddy can't save everyone, but he is a hero to many people. A fireman running into a burning building to pull out the child hiding in the closet is a hero. The police officer who goes into trained, ingrained action after seeing the criminal attack a victim is also a hero. The soldier on the battlefield who gave his life for the concept of freedom is a hero. And, the doctor who walks into a place that is not only for those who are healing, but a place for people he sees daily in their suffering and dying moments while he tries to make a a hero. Do his kids know that they are vacationing with a hero?

Probably not. To them, Dr. Ali is not a hero-extraordinaire...he must check his title at the front door of the house and simply be called "Dad."

Because Dr. Ali saved my life, I was able to be with my
mother during her final moments of life in 2006
after she'd lost her battle with breast cancer.
Here is my mom and dad at M.D. Anderson. Shortly after,
she joined God in His house at 56 earthly years of age.

This is the day our oldest received her Aggie Ring.
A day made possible because my disease was discovered.

With my increased strength, I could make it to
watch my daughter perform her Officer duties on the
school's dance team. She danced like a mighty angel.

Then I watched
my youngest graduate from high school.

The years brought greater rewards as I got to watch
my oldest graduate from Texas A&M in record
time with her degree in Biology.

These are the days that make parenting a dream.
Back to my daughter and I standing in the waiting room at Dr. Ali's office...the receptionist informs us that our appointments had been cancelled by a phone call made days earlier; we were flabbergasted. My daughter was ready to melt to the floor; she'd returned early from a trip to Florida to see Dr. Ali. Yes, the man is THAT good. She stood there stewing, thinking of her incredible moments swimming with the dolphins and she was ready to throw a two-year old fit...What? Cancelled? All this trouble for NADA!?

Me and my youngest...obviously not in a waiting room.
The receptionist calmly and professionally consults her computer database, "We are so sorry, but we show here in the notes that you were called and a message was left to inform you of the cancellation and to try to reset the appointment for next week. The number the nurse called to leave a message is ***-***-**** and she dialed that number on July 29th."

Yes, that number is MY cell phone number. My daughter's wrath turned toward me. She glared at me with her blazing blue eyes shooting darts my direction. I shrugged...OOPS...Did I mention that I am HORRIBLE about answering the phone or checking my messages? I might check my messages once every five weeks. Plus, a few weeks ago, I took a shower with my phone. It was stuck in my bathing suit, between my cleavage and I stepped in the shower absentmindedly to drench the phone along with my bathing suit and body...doesn't this happen to EVERYONE every once in a while? Cleavage can be a dangerous thing.

About the phone avoidance thing --- this happened to me after I became very ill with Addison's disease. I quickly learned to avoid the phone because I simply didn't have the energy it took to talk. And, I didn't want to talk about it. I'd already seen too many shocked expressions after they'd visited, I didn't want to prolong the emotional agony by hearing the pain in their voice. Also, callers could hear the marked weakness in my voice and I got tired of constantly being reminded that I sounded and looked as horrible as I felt. There was no more "fake it till you make it" left in me. So, I withdrew, in a big way.

With my disease, my family entered a world full of doctors, nurses and hospitals. Daily, the mail was full of insurance papers and billing records for every diagnostic test, hospital stay, clinic visit and doctor consultation. My arms constantly looked black and blue, even though I do not bruise easily. I even had hospital stays that required IV lines in my neck and chest and blood to be withdrawn from the back of my knees because my excessively low blood pressure would not allow regular veins to stay open.

The life I'd known, which had been relatively free of seeing a doctor except for a yearly Well Woman exam was gone, gone, gone.

But, during my recovery, I became more discriminating toward the level of care I received from a doctor and medical establishment. I can tell you that all doctors who followed Dr. Ali had a HARD ACT TO FOLLOW. If they were lacking, then I professionally stated my case, perhaps taking my business elsewhere. And, Addison's disease DOES result in business for the medical field. A patient with Addison's disease is likely to require moderate to heavy medical treatment, for life. We become a money-making machine for the medical industry, so I decided to start stepping up and calling out the shady treatment episodes.

My oldest, shadowing Dr. Ghosh during brain surgery.
Another remarkable, beautiful doctor in the Houston area.
Then again, the entire ordeal and massive experience I've gained with doctors, nurses and waiting rooms has forced me to recognize the above and beyond excellent care of so many who have helped me continue to survive. I've had many incredible medical professionals who have shown their deep capacity for tenderness toward humanity by their delicate, forceful, straight-forward, kid-gloved, harsh and soft caring treatment, as necessary. For those who knew how to find a balance...I am thankful for your chosen profession.

And, I continue to be connected with doctors, nurses and waiting rooms. In fact, my daughter and I have tag-team appointments re-set to see Dr. Ali next week. He is well worth the wait. I will be especially grateful to sit for as long as it takes in this particular waiting room.

In fact, I'll be dropping off a few good books to donate to his lobby.

I'll wait and I'll read. Leisurely, I'll read and watch the time tick slowly by until my name is called. I can spare some time for Dr. Ali, after all, he is the one who made sure that I had more time to spare.

Amazing times have multiplied since my
diagnosis, and I thank Dr. Ali for helping me
to continue this beautiful life.

1 comment:

  1. That was beautifully written Momma!!! Dr. Ali is a great doctor, so is Dr. Ghosh! I am thankful for all the wonderful times and memories we have had because of his ability to think outside the regular textbooks - and many more to come. :-)


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