These hospital bracelets have been sprawled in the back of my car all week, silently telling the story I can’t muster yet, since the heartache for both of us is too recent.
A little history to come soon, including the two hospital ordeals.
But for now, I wanted to tell a short tale of two amazing doctors. Mom and I are both doctor skeptics; they’re guilty until proven innocent, not because we don’t realize their humanness or the futility of the crazy system they work within, but because we’ve been hurt in the past by not questioning enough, not trusting our gut, and letting that doctor authority drive too many bad decisions.
The last two days were a fantastic deviation from that. Mom is new to my Midwest state, so we saw her new primary (second visit) and brand new neurologist. Both were stunningly kind, patient, understanding, and helpful with the many little details Carol Jean was concerned about that would have been easy to dismiss, especially the third, fourth, and fifth time she asked them without registering the answer. “Will I be like this forever?” “Is there a cure for this?” “Why did this happen to me?”
Both women set down their pen/folder, looked her right in the eye, and went right into it, both medically, emotionally, and existentially. They realized that my mom not only kept asking because of her dementia, but because she was scared of what she’s been going through, and also unfamiliar with them, wanting to see if she could trust that she’d be heard.
As I sat there, cringing at how much extra time we’d taken up, and wondering who the poor next patient was waiting, these doctors sat in the silence and waited for my mom to end the session, which I thought would nevr happen. It was really touching to me, and although she remembered none of the Mom left both appointments feeling she has the best doctors in town, which I don’t doubt.
We went out for lunch and on the way home I offered Carol Jean a piece of gum. She replied, “No, thanks- I think I’ll just chew on the lettuce that’s stuck in my teeth,” and grinned mischievously at me.