the harshest truth

Monday, January 6, 2014 | | 0 comments

we walked side by side through the chirping alarms and bright flourescent lights.  toward a task that neither one of us was looking forward to.  a task that often comes with our territory, but never gets any easier.  seeing the look on a mother’s face when you tell her that her son is going to die should never ever be something that comes easy.  (there is a special place in hell reserved for those who find it so). and this time was no different.  

my friend and i, co-fellows in our hematology/oncology program, went together.  because we had both been called to help. but mostly because, deep down, we sensed we’d need one another.  that this time would, somehow, be more difficult than all the rest. we traveled the halls of the intensive care unit to talk with the family of a man who will likely die in the next 48 hours at the hands of a fatal medication error.  a chemotherapy-related medication error that occurred at another hospital but was so severe and rare that he was transferred to be under our specialized care.  an error so tragic in its ability to have been prevented that it burns in my throat and takes my breath away.  an exquisitly painful reminder of how much responsibility we hold in our hands.

 we are each well versed in having the difficult conversations that our professions often calls upon us to have.  we've had more than either one of us care to count.  these conversations are never easy, but i have found that they are always meaningful. sometimes we witness the beauty of a family brought together or a last wish fulfilled.

i admit that today, in this moment, i am struggling deeply with the meaning in why this happened.  i have faith that it is buried deep in there somewhere and we are all left to try and find it.  

i will never forget the look in his mother's steel blue eyes when we told her the truth.  the truth that no one had wanted to say before.  there was talk of damage reversal and options and palliation of pain (all very good things) but not the hard, undeniable horrific truth.  

we went together, my friend and me.  both mothers. both mothers to sons, in fact.  we bore witness to the piercing agony as the steel blue turned grey. the matriarch, clearly a strong determined woman, seemed to vanish with the news.  she motioned for a drink of water and frantically reached for her purse....fumbling for a pill bottle of anxiety mediation.  her children, understanding the harsh truth more readily than she, quickly surrounded her, physically supporting her as a single lonely tear crept slowly down her face.  that moment will stay with us forever.

i will never know this man but based on the stories they told of him, i know he was a man of character.  a man with a beautiful spirit.  they say he was a man who liked to work on cars in between chemo cycles, something that came as no surprise as i held his tanned calloused hand in mine.  he was stubborn and determined not to let his cancer beat him down.  he was so proud, they say, as he came to clinic to get what would have been his next to last treatment.  his last words were "i don't want anyone to get in trouble" as he talked about the medical staff he knew had made a grave mistake.  

i don’t know why this happened but i am glad we met this man. only if to say goodbye.  i am touched by his grace and for now, that is all the meaning i can muster.

2014 : simple living

Friday, January 3, 2014 | | 0 comments
happy happy 2014!

i resolve to be here more.  to bring my thoughts, our stories, my authentic self.  writing brings me such joy and brings with it a sense of therapeutic relief.  it's fun, it's difficult, but most of all it is something that i really really enjoy (for a variety of very different reasons).  and i've put it off for the past few months because, well, "there just aren't enough hours in the day."  but as i continue to remind myself....we make time for the the things, the people, the experiences that are important.  easier said than done, i know....but worthy of striving for nonetheless.

the end of the year, as i'm sure is true in most homes, flew by in a flash.  but i will say with absolute certainty, that it was the most magical holiday season of my life.  the kids got it this year.  i mean, really truly GOT it.  they were so enmeshed in the magic, the festivity of it all and it was truly a dream.  from cookie baking to story telling to tradition was complete and total perfection.  perfection, mind you, that was laced with lots of crazy hectic insanity....but perfection nonetheless.  i wouldn't have changed one minute of it.

and now it is a new year.  full of blank slates, do overs, and wonderous possibility.  i am so looking forward to it.

we have but one real tried and true new years resolution this year and here it is.  LIVE MORE SIMPLY.  in all aspects of our life.  we have so many blessings and so much to be thankful for....and i find that it's easier to appreciate all of that when things aren't so darn complicated.  so simple it is.  i like simple.  i can (try to) do simple.

ben's new phrase-on-repeat is "whassup bua" as he chases our poor cat around the house and emma has been very concerned with whether or not her barbie's are smart.  "I know they are very pretty, mommy. But are they smart?" (there are about 50 different reactions i have to that little conversation which all end with "hell yea. you go girl!")  we love these kids and hope to dissipate at least a fraction of their tazmanian devil sytle energy with the multiple trampolines they got for christmas.  seems simple enought, right?

right.  so here's to you 2014.  you are going to be just simply wonderful, i can already tell.

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