April 2018

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

NL #43: For Health-care Professionals

NL #43: Today is the fourth in a three-part series written for those with life-changing illnesses and the people who love them.

A lot of skilled people take care of me. I have had--and in most cases still have--many folks looking out for me: a primary care doctor, three neurology surgeons, one radiation/oncologist, one neuro-oncologist, one oncology nurse practitioner, one dentist, one TMJ specialist, one naturopath, one cranio-sacral specialist, seven physical therapists, one therapist, two masseuses (massae?), five radiation technicians, one eye surgeon, one ophthamologist, one acupuncturist, one chiropractor, a  lot of nurses and support staff, and a lot of folks whom I no longer know by name. That's a lot of health care.

I am lucky to have the care of so many fine people. For the most part, they are professional and kind. They listen to me. They treat me like a smart person with a bad disease. They are both honest and hopeful.

When my doctor first told me about my first tumor, she said that I would need to have surgery quickly and that I would like the neurosurgeon assigned to my case. She called him a "Renaissance man." Hi name, Dr. Rapport, aptly described his character. A church friend who is a doctor who knows him, told the choir, "Mary has a kick-ass surgeon." She told me the story of the time when she, her husband, and Dr. Rapport attended a protest about the Trident Sub. Dr. Rapport, in his blue jeans and pony tail, was handing out leaflets when a woman, disgusted, said to him, "Why don't you get a job?" He responded, "I have a job." She rolled her eyes, "Yeah, what kind of job?" And he, "Well, ma'am, I'm a brain surgeon." Others I talked with confirmed his stregths as a surgeon and a person. Before I even met him, I believed in him as a person with good hands and a good spirit, something important to me. As my surgeon, he was honest about the seriousness of the tumor, hopeful about my outcome, and respectful of me, my partner Ann, and my parents. I felt like he cared about me. I still do.

One of my early physical therapists, Irina, has been another gift. In the year or so we worked together, she taught me to walk again. She was encouraging and challenging. Whereas an earlier therapist had me practicing standing on one foot, she had me kicking soccer balls and dribbling basketballs. She knew her stuff. She was helpful and hopeful. She was fun. She even convinced me to take Salsa lessons, which would have been a challenge for me before my tumor. When we did a three count turn, I took about sixteen counts.

I would like doctors in training to learn from these health-care professionals, to learn from their respectfulness, their compassion, and their spirit.


1 comment:

  1. Em,
    This reminds me of watching you relearn walking and balance early on (a couple weeks post-op?) You were an inspiration to me then (and also now), as you spoke honestly about how that was for you ("I want you to see how hard this is for me to do." And "I'll try, buy I don't think I can do that." And "look at what I CAN do now, that's so much better." Great life lessons in all of it.

    How many more parts in your three part series?
    Much Love,


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