9. The Patients’ Advocate…

This will most likely be one of the shorter posts that I’ll do. I said that I’d be jumping around a little bit here and there so let me take this post to break away from the timeline a bit, and go back to when I first landed in the hospital. I’d like to talk about my surgeon. He wouldn’t want me gushing too much about him and all that he’s done for Melissa and me, but I’m going to go ahead and tell you about him without getting too emotional about it. While in the ICU, many people; doctors, nurses and other staff were in and out of the room on a constant basis. One surgeon, Dr. P. (whom I’ve mentioned before) would become the main life line for Melissa and me. There are so many examples of how caring and time dedicated he is to his patients and especially to us, but one example of this is that while in the ICU, I had to be given blood thinners among many other things. One of the first mornings Melissa met him, he told her he was going to give me the blood thinner, Heparin. Melissa explained to him that while I was in Maine Medical months prior, I had what was called a “HIT” which the folks at Maine Medical explained to her was basically an allergy to Heparin, and she was concerned that it would harm me. Dr. P. informed her that he read this information in my chart, but he wanted to double and triple check if this allergy was accurate. He explained to Melissa that he had done a test in house as well as a test that was sent to an outside lab just to cover all bases. The outside test was very expensive to do, but he insisted that it be done in order to have the best and most accurate information about my health. It turns out that both of these tests showed that I was in fact not allergic to Heparin and Dr. P. explained to Melissa that this was the best drug for me. She learned right then and there that he was someone that she could trust. Finally she had a glimmer of hope through this one doctor’s wonderful soothing bedside manner.

He also gave me something called Albumin, which is a protein made by the liver that keeps fluid from leaking out of blood vessels. Without a good range of albumin, our bodies can’t heal. Most doctors and hospitals will not give patients Albumin because it is very expensive and there is no guarantee that it will work, but he didn’t care. He wanted to do everything in his power to give me a fighting chance. When morning rounds would come, Dr. P. would come in with his team of residents and students as it was a teaching hospital. Melissa always stood up from her chair wanting to hear what information Dr. P. may have that morning since my health was often times changing hour by hour. One day when he came in, she stood up and she remembers him telling her she didn’t have to stand every time he came into my room. He said to her, “ We aren’t royalty;” but to her, this amazing surgeon was. His care as a doctor and his bedside manner with the way he explained things to her, and hearing her concerns was something that we hadn’t come across most times with other doctors. He was definitely a rare breed of doctor. He is always working even when he is off. Dr. P. cares so much about his patients that he even gives his personal cell phone number to his patients and their families.

He always allowed Melissa to stay by me up until the second I was to be wheeled into the operating room. Anytime I was going to be put under general anesthesia, Dr. P was always so reassuring that I would be in good hands and everything would be okay. This was a big deal for me as being put under for major surgery was extremely difficult for me and my nerves. They always had to use a higher dose to get me under and I was afraid that one day they would get the dosing wrong and give me too much. He always gave me positive things to think of while going under. During my last surgery, right before I was going to sleep, Dr. P had a great idea. He wanted to take a picture of he and I to send to Melissa knowing she was just as nervous as I was. Having him care so much about the patient’s family is just one amazing attribute to this outstanding surgeon. If the surgery was going to be lengthy, (and it always was with me) he would have his nurse (if he didn’t do it himself) text or call Melissa every couple of hours to give updates on how I was doing.

Through the few years that we have known him, he’s become not just a doctor that cared and was nice to us, he became a friend and at times a counselor. He took helping me get well personally and I’m sure we’re not the only ones who he’s been this kind of doctor for. He is someone we will consult with to this day. He is an honest and genuine doctor with a bedside manner that is more like a family friend. While there are many other doctors who go by the book, Dr. P, will often have options if going by the book does not work for a particular patient. It’s what we trust about him. He will never give up on a patient where other doctors may. He will be an integral part of my next rehab stay as we encounter the worst of the worst…

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