Tag Archives: doctors

The Heretofore Underappreciated Value of a Complete Sentence

I had considered being a doctor as a child, but never a nurse. I just wanted to come into the room with all the answers and knowledge. I was never interested in giving shots or sponge baths. But somewhere along the way I fell in love with words and decided to explore writing and communication.

So when my mother-in-law, Edrine, broke her ankle and I was the only relative in near proximity and with a more flexible schedule, I ended up paying a visit to Georgia to assist her a little as well as my father-in-law, Klaus, (both are in their 70’s) in their primary caregiver duties to Edrine’s aunt.

Aunt Luella is 101! That’s quite an accomplishment. But age has taken its toll on her and she struggles with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Some days when you walk into her private wing at the end of my in-laws’ home, you never know what to expect. She’s latched on to a few words that are repeated over and over again along with a sprinkling of intelligible words. You have to understand that sometimes a gibberish word is standing in place of the other word that her mind can no longer get her mouth to say.

It took a couple of days for Aunt Luella to get used to me in the room assisting with care instead of my mother-in-law. I tried my best to follow instructions and keep to the exact same routine so as not to aggravate her. She spoke mostly to Klaus, but sometimes she would look at me and say a string of gibberish.

One day, as I cleared away her morning meal and brought her a nutritional supplement, Aunt Luella suddenly looked up at me and said, “I really like that shirt.” I was stunned and overwhelmed. I finally smiled and thanked her for her kind words. To hear that 101-year-old woman speak in a complete sentence was uncommon, but especially to someone new she was still getting used to. That simple sentence, a compliment about what I was wearing, is something I will treasure forever.

So here I am, full circle, realizing that I never wanted to be the one to do the sometimes nasty jobs of personal care on someone who couldn’t do it for themselves, yet that’s exactly what I was doing for Aunt Luella. Was it fun? No! I got peed on once and in one of her dementia aggravated moments, she thrashed and tried to get her diaper off – leaving quite the mess for us to clean up. But having that one interaction with her made it all worthwhile!

When someone speaks to you, take the time to listen. It may not be evident on the outside just how much it is taking them to speak in a complete sentence to you. Maybe it’s a child that is afraid to admit that they broke something. Maybe it’s a relative that has been distant for some years and is struggling to say that they want to be involved in the family again. Take the time to appreciate the value of a complete sentence.

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Release

What were you thinking? To any physicians and surgeons out there, I’m sorry, but please don’t take this personal. If I could go back 25+ years I would yell, scream, throw things around or do anything else I could to get the attention of those people, grab them by the ear if I had to. “What were you thinking?” What kind of a doctor takes 18 inches of colon out of a 14 year old girl then just leaves her to fend for herself? Did you not even think to check for Crohn’s Disease, Colitis or anything? Is it just a favorite past time of yours to yank out parts of a person’s body, leaving a lovely exploratory scar as a parting gift?

I’m working through the grief. After living with gastro issues for more than 25 years, I’m dealing with learning it was Crohn’s Disease all along and I’m grieving what could have been. If the doctors and surgeons had followed through, my life would be completely different. Then again, maybe they did me a favor. What did I accomplish (college degree, three kids, Who’s Who award, program director for a television network, published poet) that I might not have – had I seen myself with limitations? I had my whole life in front of me. You took out 18 inches of my colon and left me with no diagnosis, just to figure it out on my own. Was I better off that way?

Even if I could find those doctors and surgeons and was able to give them a piece of my mind, it wouldn’t give me peace of mind. In reality, there is nothing that can be done now to change anything. “I’m sorry, we didn’t know that much about bowel diseases at the time,” doesn’t work for me. They diagnosed my sister. Was I a bad girl that I didn’t deserve a fair shot at knowing what I would be struggling against the rest of my life?

I’m coming up on one year of getting my diagnosis of Crohn’s Disease. I’ve had to learn a lot the past year. I’ve been through a lot with medications, lab tests (some cost $400 a shot), weekly blood draws to ensure proper medication dosage and learning about things to do and not do for Crohn’s Disease (sure would have been helpful 25 years ago). I’m grieving a part of my life that could have been lived differently, had I known. This week, I’m working on accepting what has happened, because obviously there is nothing that can change it, forgiving the people who failed me all of those years ago and moving on from where I am at now.

This is a journey of acceptance, forgiveness and release. God give me strength and thank You for walking with me.

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