Monday, March 15, 2010

Above and Beyond

Urban Cynic is trying to help me blog every day by giving me topics to choose from. I ended up failing yesterday, because I got caught up with doing housework and laundry, and then drove almost to Kentucky with my son so he could meet his girlfriend on her way back from Tennessee. And I'm about to partially fail today, because the topic I chose is 'the nicest thing anyone has ever done' for me, but I'm stealing a story I wrote two years ago at Myspace.

My father passed away after suffering from a massive stroke on March 11, 2007. Because he went so quickly and unexpectedly, I was haunted by his death and by questions about whether we did everything we could.

Almost one full year later, my youngest son began losing the use of his legs, and doctors discovered that he had a blood clot pushing against the nerves in his spine. He underwent emergency surgery to remove the clot at the same hospital where my father died. My son's surgeon was phenomenal. Talk about a good bedside manner! He was the kindest doctor I've ever met, and I will forever be grateful to him not only for literally saving my son from paralysis, but for figuratively saving me from it as well. Here's the story:

It was one year ago today that my dad had his stroke. I might not have remembered it if I hadn't spent the afternoon at the hospital where he died.

For a whole year, I've been pretty haunted by my dad's death. Second-guessing everything, including whether we should have opted for surgery. I think my misgivings were caused by the fact that I was never there when the doctor spoke to the rest of the family.

So today, when [my son] had an appointment with the neurosurgeon who operated on him, I decided to ask for his opinion. I have to tell you what an exceptional guy Dr. Bellew is - intelligent and good at what he does, with an aura of calm assurance and an uncanny ability to connect with people.

I said, "Can I ask you an unrelated question?"

He said, "Sure."

So I explained the situation with my dad, and told him that what bothered me most was that in a life or death situation, my dad would have fought for my life, but I didn't feel I had fought for his. And do you know what his answer was? He said, "I can look at the films with you, and let you know what I think."

So he led me down corridors to a room with computers, where all the films are archived for who knows how long. He typed in my dad's name. Dad had a lot of films, some of them from years ago. It was like seeing some weird kind of history of his body. Dr. Bellew pulled up the CT scan - 2007/03/11, 16:36. It was pretty freaky - a year ago almost to the minute. He took me through the complete scan. Pointed out every detail, including the line that indicated pressure squeezing against the opposite hemisphere of the brain, and all the dark area which clearly indicated that my father would never, ever have been the same person, even with surgery.

That's how Dr. Bellew performed brain surgery on me today. Since I was sired by a guy from Missouri, I guess someone just had to 'show me.'


Urban Cynic said...

Thank you for sharing your story - I'm also glad having a choice of things to write about is helping.

Here are your 2 choices for today:

1) What was the worst present you ever received (yes, I know it's the thought that counts but you also know there was one!)
2) If could go back to any period in history - where would you go &why?

Propoquerian said...

what an incredible story. it really shows there is no right or wrong way to go about grief. some might have stopped you in your tracks and said "dont look at the slides!" because, by chance, you may have found yourself feeling much worse. but by chance, you ended up relieving yourself of possibly a lifetime of grief. what does this teach us? sometimes we should indulge our itching curiosities? i dont know that it teaches us anything. it was just a chance, but one i think you deserved :) thank you for sharing this

MauritaMason said...

UC, thank YOU! I think I'll do both.

Propoquerian, I'm all for indulging my itching curiosities - though it's somtimes gotten me into trouble! Thanks for reading.

Simon said...

I’m in agreement with Propoquerian on this. You regretted not being with your father when he died suddenly and unexpectedly: when my father died, seven years ago, I was living with him, and I can assure you that dying of a progressively deteriorating heart condition over a period of a year, and that left his almost bedridden for the last few weeks, was not a pleasant situation for him, for me, or for my mother. I’m very much someone who believes in quality of life being more important than longevity.

I suspect that people have a built-in tendency to feel guilt ‘by default’ in circumstances like yours. As you were luckily to discover, there is no reason to automatically assume that’s the case. I’m glad you resolved that.

countrygirl005 said...

I think I remember mom telling me about this, or maybe reading it somewhere, but thank you for sharing it again. I have been thinking of grandpa a lot lately. Especially when all of these great things are happening. I just want to share them with him, and show him my house and I really wished he could have been at my graduation. :( but I know he's been watching over all of us :)

Marie said...

WHOA. My dad passed away from skin cancer on March 14, 2007!