Most of the people I’ve tried to honor through these Lenten Letters have had a mental or emotional influence on my life. And you have also. But that never would have happened if you hadn’t first had a tremendous impact on my physical life.
When I started seeing you, I had been through 3 G.P.s, 2 G.I. doctors, 3 OBGYNs, and a Rheumatologist. In a nutshell, I knew something was wrong with my body, but no one else seemed to know how to find it. I was exhausted, in every sense of the word, by the time I became your patient.
I knew, immediately after my first exam with you, that you were different than other doctors I’d seen. For one, after the exam, you came back into the room, sat down, and talked to me.
We tried a couple of different medicines, which helped for a while, but it became obvious after a while that these medicines were just temporarily helping a problem that neither one of us knew about. Yet.
When I came to see you in the spring of 2014, I was at an all time low. I felt horrible. I cried. I cried a lot. In fact, it seemed like every time I saw you, I was in tears. Frustration, hopelessness was building in me. I had been doing my own research by that time, and before I could suggest it, you did. “Let’s do a laproscopy.”
So we did.
I knew it was bad when I saw my husband’s worried face when I woke up. I got the initial breakdown from him, and then a personal phone call from you within the week.
When I followed up with you, I thanked you for that personal call. Most doctors don’t do that. You said, “I don’t normally do that. I just wanted you to know that you weren’t crazy. These symptoms you’ve been having, all these years, this is most likely the culprit. You were likely misdiagnosed with certain G.I. problems and certainly, if you’re in chronic pain you have anxiety and depression. No wonder you’ve been miserable.”
You told me it was the worst case of Endometriosis that you’d ever seen, and the only way to get rid of it completely was to have a total hysterectomy. You didn’t b.s. me about putting it off. You gave me a medication to help my symptoms and hopefully prevent the spread while I finished my political campaign. You told me that I needed to decide, within the year, what I was going to do. The disease was already wreaking havoc on my digestive system, and you were afraid you would have to bring in an additional surgeon anyway. We didn’t want my risk for long term digestive problems to increase.
I was, at the same time, both relieved and devastated. Relieved to know that I really wasn’t crazy, devastated to know that my own body was my enemy.
Last year, I made an appointment and told you I was ready for the surgery. We had a long talk. I could see the worry in your eyes all while you had a steady, reassuring tone in your voice. But I trusted you. Because you were the first doctor in the history of forever to listen to me, try to get to the root of my problems, and stop treating symptoms.
When I awoke from surgery, I was feeling none too great. You had told me that some patients feel immediately better following a hysterectomy. Apparently I was not one of those.
My 2 week follow up, I was sick as a dog. Again, you looked like, “What have I done?”
But by my final post-op, I was feeling like a brand new person. My pain was gone. My digestive issues were improving. I was simply dealing with the after effects of hormonal loss. Those symptoms would get, and continue to get, better.
I cried in your office again that day, much like all of my other visits with you. But this time, they were happy tears. And we both cried them. I told you that I loved your “baby boards” with all the pictures of the children you had delivered. But I thought you needed a wall for patients like me – successful treatment stories of women who had battled some harsh health problems. You told me that women like me were the reason you went into your field. That you loved delivering babies, but it was the treatment and surgeries that changed lives that you loved being a part of. We hugged and cried and I thanked you for giving me my life back.
I am down over 20 lbs since my surgery. I am eating like a grown up, exercising. I’m determined that the woman you see this fall will be a transformation before your very eyes. I want you to know that it was because of you that I was able to overcome a devastating blow to my body and rise from the ashes, stronger, healthier, better.
You listened. When it seemed like I was destined to feel horrible forever, you listened. And then, you did what you do best, you healed.
I am forever grateful. For both.