If you still have your parents, you probably have no clue how truly blessed you are.
When we are young, our parents were rule and order, hopefully with nurturing love as their standard. As we grew and spread our wings we either flew or learned to swim. Maybe we walked, climbed that tree, and tried to fly again; whatever your path, it was probably different than mine or your friends.
The road we choose is not always the best one. Some of us are so ill-informed that we make foolish choices, and it takes our mothers to ask us, “What were you thinking?”
My mother has been gone for more years than I can count because someone made a very unwise decision. Living in the mountains of Arkansas, she subscribed to an air ambulance service, which was her fallback plan.
Waking up early one day with a pain she could not make go-away, she took a nitroglycerin tablet and sure enough, the pain subsided. She was, in fact in coronary distress. Calling the appropriate numbers, a regular ambulance was at her door. They transported her down the mountain to a place where the helicopter could land.
Stabilized in the ambulance, they knew what was going on and sent her via the helicopter to the hospital. What happened next is the absolute lamest decision that they could have made.
These people transported her to a hospital that did not have cardiac care, nor did they have a cardiologist on staff. Why not Littlerock? Why not anywhere else, with a cardiologist on staff?
By the time I could make it to her bedside, the ER staff decided to practice putting in a stent. They ruptured her artery, causing multiple surgeries that all of course failed.
Outside the ICU, a cardiologist that drove in from Littlerock, after the ER doctors butchered her, told me point blank, with multiple families around… “Your mother is not going to make it!”
He might as well have hit me between the eyes with a brick, which is what it felt like.
Going into the room, she was there with more equipment hooked to her than they used to put man on the moon.
A nurse pulled me aside and told me the struggle they had trying to get her to agree to let them perform the procedure. She wanted a cardiologist, and they assured her this was a simple everyday procedure.
She was bleeding from every possible place one could bleed, and I was assured she had multiple hemorrhages in her brain as well.
This overly sizeable rotund doctor who butchered her, was distraught when I agreed to pull her off life support. You see, he was invested in the procedure and learning from his mistakes, and not about my mother.
Her kidneys were gone, her pulmonary system was shot, she had multiple brain bleeds, but this man wanted to see if his last surgery held.
I asked him to stop and think for a second, “What would you do if that were your mother?”
His countenance changed as what little bit of humanity he had left, resurfaced. He was lost in the procedure. This was his big opportunity to do a procedure that he had read about.
I have worked with some of the world’s best doctors. The pioneers of reconstructive heart surgery, I worked with them in Houston. I knew them, and they knew me.
Here in this little backwater town in the hills of Arkansas, is where those that make the lowest grades in their classes end up, and they are still called doctor. That, of course, is my opinion, and from talking to them, and witnessing what they did, that was the case 12 years ago.
I don’t care that your title is ‘doctor.’ What grade did you get in the classes in which you are practicing? Were you a top performer or someone who barely scraped by. Maybe you were one of those who found ways to game the system.
Once in Pedi Cardiology, I was working with them when they got the call that some baby had passed, the heart was viable. You see, I have seen this behavior before. They were gleeful as they abandoned what they were doing and headed to surgery, to harvest the heart, to practice a transplant.
What about the parents who lost their child?
I sat there and wept for the baby that passed, and for those parents who were surely distraught.
Sitting there, making the decision to allow my mother to pass, the nurse began to tell me all of the different ways we could accomplish this. What a stupid bitch!
My heart was being ripped from my chest, and she was treating it like another god damned procedure.
The nurse attending to my mother, as well as the cardiologist, drove in from Little Rock after these ER doctors got in way over their heads. They were, of course, interested in me making a decision so they could get back to LittleRock.
When she drew her last breath, a tear fell on her face, as I said goodbye. The system failed her.
The system which we all take for granted failed her. Not an hour later, I got a phone call from this same hospital, asking me what I wanted them to do with the body. You see, they had their jobs to do too, and all of those decisions required a credit-card, and instructions.
If you are like me; and your parents are no longer with you, there are more of us around, reach out, pray for one another or send positive thoughts or energy. I think about all of the empty chairs at dinner tables we have at the holidays. From parents to loved ones who died in some senseless war, or perhaps were caught in the crossfire between rival gangs.
I know many who have lost children to a drug overdose. Do they keep their chairs at the table, or did they just stop eating at the table?
As we move into November, and you are thankful for something, I pray that your parents are some of those things that you are grateful for.
A good friend of mine chastised me tonight because I was working and sending e-mails, and she knew that I had a migraine. Just maybe you can borrow the ‘motherly’ spirit of good friends, for an instant or two.
Go hug your mother if she is still with you. Dad’s need hugs too, so don’t leave them out. I don’t care if you are mad at them about something, go and hug them, and tell them you love them. In the end, the way you feel now won’t mean a hill of beans.
I would give the world to have my mother ask me, “What are you thinking, you should be in bed!”
Much Love -TW