Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just Some Thoughts That Were On My Mind



Here is the gift given to us by Jen, your friend and ours. She presented it to us after getting up and reading a letter she wrote at your memorial. She is a talented artist and sweet friend. (sorry I couldn't take the pic w/o the glare). You met Jen in rehab and you were so happy to hear years later that she overcame her illness and ended up working at the same hospital you had met. You see, there are some good endings!



In 2000 when Grandma was sick I had an encounter with her physician who would be the one doctor that would break my spirit. I used to have such a high regard for doctors, I used to think that they were so much above the ordinary civilian. I was truly intimidated by them, generally speaking.

After getting devastating news about Grandma having a life threatening diagnosis and after having spent several weeks in the hospital, the family was unsure whether to call Uncle Erick, who lived in Seattle, to come and see her before it would be too late. I remember calling the doctor in the evening after getting her home phone number from her office, which I had originally called. She was making dinner and after I profusely apologized for interrupting her at home, she began ranting and raving at me. All we wanted was her advice as to whether she thought it was serious enough to have Erick come out to see her. She said, "I don't have a crystal ball......etc. etc. etc. and yelled at me as though I was a terrible person for calling her after hours." I hung up the phone in awe, I couldn't believe what had just happened. When I arrived at the hospital, Aunt Roni, told me that the doctor had called her to apologize to me for her behavior. I never forgot how she made me feel and those words...I don't have a crystal ball.....rang in my mind for years.  It may not have been so harsh for someone else, but in my frail state of mind knowing that my mother was possibly going to die any day, it wasn't at all what I needed at the time. She made a horrible situation just that much worse. I feel that is when I realized that doctors, although very smart and have a lot more knowledge than I'll ever have, are still just people like you and me.....

I know this was an isolated case and I realize that most doctors are wonderful and caring and good, but there were some other unacceptable things we endured at that particular hospital which could have been avoided if the staff had been a bit more professional. The one thing  I do remember that one of the last things Grandma said to you before she passed away was......."and now all we have to do is get Monica to eat".......I was on one side of the bed and you were on the other, I distinctly remember thinking that this has to have an impact on you, after all this is your grandmother, who you loved more than anyone, you would surely listen to what she had to say!  I'm afraid that it only made you feel more guilty that you were unable to make changes....anorexia was way too powerful, once again.

There were so many times over the years when we would have to find doctors or programs or someone from the health community to help us. There were more professionals that we came in contact with than I could have ever imagined. We are talking about 14 long, difficult and many time disturbing years of searching for doctors, hospitals, nutritionists, eating disorder specialists, cardiologists, orthopaedic surgeons.....etc. most were very professional and helpful, I will say.

I would like to share one of the funniest reactions we ever got was from a local doctor who we found in the neighborhood. You didn't have an intern to consult with at the time and you needed one for medications etc. I had called his office prior to making the appointment and asked if he had experience with patients with eating disorders and they assured me that he had. While waiting in the examination room for the doctor      he came into the room and saw you on the table,  he looked right at you and said, "Oh My.....Oh My.....Oh My"....I thought he wouldn't stop!  You and I were laughing when he left the room, it was almost comical. This was actually one of your last doctors, so it was pretty close to the time you had your emergency surgery around 2008. You had been having stomach pains so bad that you insisted on going to the emergency room. It turned out that you had been taking so many aspirin, thinking that it would help your heart, that the result was it destroyed your stomach and produced a hole in the lining. You had to have surgery that same night and in your condition it was touch and go for a while. We didn't know if you were strong enough to handle it, but you came through okay, considering. That is when the hospital psychiatric doctor wouldn't let you leave the hospital until you agreed to go to an inpatient program.  This doctor, who looked like he had just eaten and spilled food on his shirt....his stomach resembling a pregnant woman. (silly how that image sticks out in my memory). He took me in a special room and had the talk with me, he told me that if we didn't take you to court and get your medical rights taken away from you, so we could then make decisions for you,  that you would die.  Over many years this was probably the 9th or 10th doctor that said those words to me in some form or another.  You finally agreed...you didn't have much choice. Your options for recovery or help were always crappy. There is no one answer to say, yep that should do it, lets try that and you should be okay.....no...options are all bad, unfortunately in your case at that point in time.

 When I picked you up from the hospital that time, the nurse had you in a wheel chair. I had pulled up to the door and the nurse got you right up to the door of the car, you stood up and before we could take the foot pedals and turn them out of your way she backed up the chair tripping you and  essentially flipping you forward into the front of the car. I remember you had a Styrofoam cup filled with vegetable soup which was thrown all over the front seat of my car as you fell onto the sidewalk and half in my car.  There was cauliflower and broccoli all over the floor and air conditioning fans.  The very sweet nurse was horrified at what she had done and ran to help you.....I think I said some rather choice words I regretted later, but came out of my mouth unexpectedly.  After you stopped crying from the shear pain of falling down, we laughed on the way home. You always had such a good outlook on life and situations that happened. Always found humor in all of the crazy things that occurred in your crazy life!

Another time I was waiting in the office of the director of an eating disorder program, who had known you for several years. I was waiting to see one of his therapists in his practice. He asked me how you were doing.  I answered him truthfully at the time and his reply was..."well, at least she's still alive". 
I will never forget those words either.....it seemed like a strange response to say to a mother.

As those of us who have experience waiting in emergency rooms for ourselves or family members, we know how physically and emotionally exhausting it is. There was a night I can remember that Dad, you and I were waiting for one of the health staff to come in to bring the paperwork for entering the eating disorder program....

Anyways, the emergency room had all  of the people in it hustling and bustling...it was very busy that night and I was walking with you to the restroom while dad waited in the room. We had been there for several hours and as I was waiting for you to come out of the restroom a nurse walked by that I had seen earlier but had been tending to other patients, not us. We passed each other and as I walked by she patted me on the back...and with that pat on the back it spoke volumes. She said more to me with that pat and never having to say a word......it was so comforting to me and I never ever forgot that and I don't think I ever will. 
I guess that people might have to understand that being in your presence during those days where you looked sooooo scary and sick. You couldn't hide what was going on........you always used to say that other people who had different types of eating disorders could hide it so much better, but you really couldn't hide it at all, especially close to the end of your journey. Few people really had the pleasure of spending time with you....I was one of the lucky ones.

Our butterfly bush out back in my garden.

Aunt Roni painted this for us, it is in our garden in the front of the house.





miss you tons.......m

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