25 January 2013

Bedside Manner

It was a year ago yesterday that we were adopted into the Seattle Children's Hospital Cardiology family. On Tuesday, January 24, 2012, we still thought Eddie's condition would be diagnosed by a neurologist rather than a cardiologist, so we walked through the 4th Floor Whale entrance more nervous about Eddie's sleep study scheduled for the next day than his echocardiogram.

Today, we are thankful for Dr. McQuinn, the face we'll always associate with Eddie's diagnosis . . . and we love you for it. You spoke to us kindly, gently, but directly. The 'T' word escaped from your lips only minutes after seeing Eddie's ultrasound . . . which we know must have been tremendously difficult for you. You left the door open a few millimeters for us . . . perhaps the imaging was misleading, you would need to consult with your colleagues before making any formal conclusions.

Why don't you get some lunch, and I'll talk to the Transplant Cardiology team to get their opinion.

Should we schedule another appointment to get your feedback? How long will it take you to get an answer?

Oh . . . no. We'll need to talk this afternoon. Don't go far. We'll give you a pager. And so it began.

We're thinking of you Drs. Kemna and Albers, our first transplant cardiologists, who sat with us that afternoon, speaking to us more with your eyes than with your lips. Will this family make it through the coming months? Do they have any idea what stress, what heartbreak, what pain they will face? I don't know but they were also asking themselves if they were ready to escort another child through months of waiting, fear, and anxiety. Dr. Kemna, do you ever wonder, at moments like these, whether you chose the right profession? Dr. Albers, are you sure you're prepared for a lifetime of broken hearts?

Well, John Donne said "Affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it." I don't know if that gives you any comfort, but it does me. While Proust, a bit more recently, told us that "we are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it in full." I don't know if we've drained our pool of suffering yet, but we have certainly felt a blessed measure of healing at your hands. Do not doubt, as I'm sure you don't, the path you have followed . . . Eddie knows you as angels, and we will always remember that day, in 2012, when your eyes spoke more eloquently than your lips.