Monday, October 24, 2011

Junk Mail

Friday I received a form letter in the mail announcing that a certain hematologist was switching practices. I was only his patient for two days. He was the one who examined my blood sample and prepared transfusions to have on hand in the operating room before the high-risk procedure to remove Lily. He was also the one who discharged me from the hospital the following day, despite my complaint of acute side pain and my abnormal blood counts.

Another hematologist, who knows him, has told me he felt terrible for missing my diagnosis. I am sure he did. It took us weeks of effort to get my records from those two days. Maybe there was some fear of litigation. It was unfounded. His form letter Friday brought back a flood of memories that kept me up that night.

Once I was under Dr. Goldberg's care, I asked him: if my condition in those first days was so serious, why hadn't I died during that procedure with Lily? He told me "luck." I don't believe that. It was God. And since the answer is God, the only appropriate response to that first hematologist missing my diagnosis is forgiveness. As scary as it is to consider the "what ifs" of those days, the missed diagnosis was a mistake. Doctors, like the rest of us, are not perfect.

Even though we've forgiven him, we have no obligation to care about or retain his new contact information. I ripped his form letter in thirds and dropped the pieces in the junk mail pile. Just like that hematologist is moving on to a new practice, we are moving on, past cancer.