June 7, 2009

Take care of yourself

So I have had a very introspective Sunday. To explain this let me start with a story. About three weeks ago my mother had surgery to replace her leads, battery, and stimulator for her deep brain stimulators which treat the symptoms of her Parkinson's Disease. Last Thursday she noticed her eye was swelling shut and her incision was red. My father took her to the ER immediately. They examined her and said that swelling is normal after surgery and sent her home. Then Saturday she developed a fever of 102. My father did an excellent job of giving her Tylenol and trying to cool her down. When my dad called the neurologist on call he said that it sounded like she had the flu. Later that night my dad decided to take her to the ER. She was very weak by this time and my brother, Steve, and my father had to all work together to get her out of bed and to the ER. When she arrived and they looked at her incisions they diagnosed her as having an infection. She went in for surgery this afternoon and they removed her stimulator and battery and she is currently resting in ICU.

So I have been thinking a lot about this process. I went through my stages of grief. Starting with shock, but that happened on Thursday when we were all relatively sure she had an infection. Then we all shared the feeling of guilt. Was there something we could have done to get this taken care of sooner? Then the anger. Really doctors, my family and most of you reading this probably could figure out she had an infection before she became so sick and so weak. (On a side note I have to thank the boxing component of the Wii for helping me through some of the anger) :) I have been working on reflection and acceptance for the rest of the day today.

I work in the medical system and therefore know that no one in that system should be put on a pedestal. We are all human and therefore fallible. The plumber does not always find the source of the leak the first time and the mechanic does not always find what is making that knocking sound in your car the first time. So why do we think that doctors should be able to do this with an incredibly complicated human body? Because they are doctors? They have always been put on a pedestal and in someways they should be highly regarded. But they can make mistakes and we need to remember that. Did they do this on purpose to hurt my mother? No they did not. Was this a mistake that any human could make? Yes it is. Unfortunately two different humans made the same mistake. :) What are the odds of that?

If there is something to learn from this situation it is BE YOUR OWN ADVOCATE! I always tell my patients they have an advantage I don't. They know their bodies better than I do. If you think something is wrong and you are told once, twice or more that nothing is wrong search for help and challenge the accepted wisdom. I think my father did an excellent job! Had he listened to the doctor on call and left her at home she would have deteriorated further.

I am so proud of you Dad! I love you very much Mom! Take care!!!

1 comment:

RitterB's said...

I am sorry to hear about your mom. I am so glad that your Dad was able to respond quickly! You are right about us listening to our bodies! Lisa has also been a great example to me of that! I will keep your mom and the rest of your family in our prayers!