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I Hope That Someone Gets My Message In A Bottle

Posted Nov 14 2008 12:00am
Just a castaway, an island lost at sea, oh
Another lonely day, with no one here but me, oh
More loneliness than any man could bear
Rescue me before I fall into despair, oh
I'll send an S.O.S. to the world
I'll send an S.O.S. to the world
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle
~The Police, Message In A Bottle~

Dear Doc,

Thanks for your call today. I appreciate you finally getting to the insurance paperwork that was faxed to your office a little over a week ago. It’s due Monday – why do today what you can put off until tomorrow, right?

I bet you’re wondering why I haven’t called to inquire about the status in my usual micro-managing fashion. It’s because the fact that my messages go to the bottom of the list is a reminder that people who have lost children lower on the totem pole than those presently nurturing a new life. In my pregnant days, my calls were returned promptly –now I’m lucky to get a call back at all. Thanks for reinforcing the fact that I’m no longer important.

It was nice of you to admit that you haven’t been communicating effectively about the awful event that fundamentally and permanently changed me. I’m glad you cleared up the fact that I had no choice other than surgery. I’m not glad that you said I did have a choice to get a second opinion, more MRIs, or more ultrasounds. You neglected to mention this option to me. Should I have known this was a choice? I had been without food or drink for nearly 24 hours, injected with drugs at certain intervals, and was emotionally traumatized by the situation at hand – should you have considered that I might no be thinking clearly? That is a rhetorical question.

I also recall (as does DH) that you referred to the potential of surgery as “exciting” when we were in your office the day I was admitted to the hospital because cornual ectopics are not everyday occurrences. Adding it all together now, perhaps you seemed a little too eager to cut. I guess you now have some good water cooler talk and a new topic for your next publication.

If you’re wondering why I seem a bit agitated, it’s because every time you try to reassure me, you throw in some bit of information that was not shared prior to surgery – the option to wait just a little longer and do some more tests and the fact that you did indeed go ahead and book surgery although the diagnostic results were inconclusive are just two examples. When I see you again in a few weeks, are you going to tell me that my uterus can support another pregnancy after telling me it wouldn’t be able to?

You also told me that they wouldn’t be able to tell the gender of the baby when I had asked about obtaining the pathology report only to find out a week later that they sure as heck could – which I had suspected based on information I had found online about the physical development of babies in utero. This was one piece of information I really wanted to know and it broke my heart when you said I wouldn’t be able to get it. Now I wonder why you said that – did you really not think it was possible?

Today DH mentioned that we should talk to a lawyer. I’m not sure I’m quite there yet, but it does seem like things weren’t handled as well as they could have been.

Looking back, all of my ultrasounds – except the one by dr. ditzy – indicated implantation on the right side of a possibly abnormally shaped uterus. If the usual ultrasound dr. had done the ultrasound in lieu of dr. ditzy, and seen the placement again, would your team have tracked me closer and potentially not let this get to the point when highly invasive surgery was necessary? Was open surgery necessary – or is it just that your hospital is not as adept at the use of laparoscopy for ectopic pregnancies? I’ve looked at publications from other area hospital OBs, and they talk about laparoscopy, even for cornuals. And while I recognize each case is different, I wonder what method would have been used elsewhere. Would I still have lost part of my uterus? Would someone else have recommended watching and waiting?

Now lets talk about my 48 hour stay at your facility. One nurse – who dropped off my glasses and wedding rings which were removed after I was gassed up in the OR – told my husband that I was distraught going into surgery (NO KIDDING!?!) and that we were young and could try again. Another nurse on the OB floor where my room was said “oh perhaps I’ll see you in one of my childbirth classes” after my surgery. The kicker though was when a lactation consultant came in, congratulated us on our new baby, and said she was there to answer any questions about breastfeeding. Seriously. As if that wasn’t enough, when we told her there was no baby she said “Are you sure, my sheet says room 30?” like we were joking with her. That was very pathetic.

There was no mention of social work resources being available to me. Chaplaincy was never suggested. No one even said they were sorry for my loss after the surgery. It was a very unsupportive environment for a mother who had just lost a child in a rather quick and dramatic fashion.

The diagnostic questions, the issues around not perhaps being told everything we should have beforehand (as it’s coming out now), and some aspects of my stay at the hospital yielded “complex grief” (as the priest called it), which is much harder to address than normal simple grief. This increased my pain and suffering and decreased my ability to function in daily life.

I recognize you try. You didn’t have to call me to check on me periodically. You didn’t have to have your secretary find me a therapist. And you definitely didn’t have to reach out to me today about the communication foibles when you called regarding the insurance paperwork. So thank you for trying. Trying though, is much different than succeeding at building a trusting and open relationship with patients.

Thank you for letting me share my thoughts, opinions, and observations.

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