13 February 2010

My Surgeon

He's my surgeon because he found the swollen lymph node from which he took the biopsy. I had an appointment to discuss the biopsy with him the day I had to take myself into the ER due to my inability to breathe. Needless to say, I was quite concerned and disappointed not to see him that day. Dr. R is a very amiable, non-assuming person. He quickly put me at ease during our meeting and ensuing encounters. I liked him a lot. And if there was anyone who could have softened the blow of a cancer pronouncement, it would have been him. Think "favorite uncle or grandfather." That's the gentle Dr. R.

So imagine the deeper shock to my system when it was Dr. Z who delivered the news and not my favored Dr. R. It was doubly devastating. I knew that if I got the news from my surgeon instead, the blow would have been less severe. Ahhh, but the gods had other plans, I guess. Suffice it to say, not seeing Dr. R that day contributed a lot to my feelings of isolation and and estrangement at the hospital. He was the one doctor I wanted to see the most. But to no avail. Oh well....

I woke up more disoriented the next morning. Even though Nurse J had been good enough to give me some Ambien for sleep, it was nonetheless a fitful night of "sleep." It didn't help that the only person with whom I felt comfort (the lovely Nurse J) had completed her shift and I was now under the care of another nurse. All my feelings of wobbliness came rushing back that morning. I was in a quiet panic once more.

It was in the middle of this internal chaos that my surgeon appeared, unexpectedly! He was in his scrubs and had a piece of paper in his hand. I squealed his name and he almost ran to me. Then I just collapsed in his arms. And for the first time since I heard about my cancer, I heard the words "I'm so sorry." He held me quietly as a cried like a baby for a good long while. I needed that.

Acts of kindness don't have to be in grandiose proportions. What was it for Dr. R to just swing by and visit me before he went to surgery? Probably not much. But it meant the world to me. What was it for him to say "I'm sorry" not in apology but in sympathy? But it fortified me. The smallest demonstrations of sympathy can sometimes mean the most. What Dr. Z lacked, Dr. R made up for in leaps and bounds.

Kindness. It never fails.

1 comment:

WhiteStone said...

It was my gall bladder surgeon who discovered my ovarian cancer. I returned to his office 3 days later for a "follow-up" in regards to his removal of the gall bladder and he referred me to an excellent Gyn/Onc. Then we chatted a bit about our families (his parents were from my home town) and he hugged me before I left. He was so gentle and that was so kind of him. His compassion was real.

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