An excerpt from my memoir Breathing and Grieving,
Pete' We still see Dr. Mike weekly. It's been eight years for me. I go more often than Pete these days. Mike cares deeply for me. He watches the changes in me, not just my back but my attitude and my energy and whether or not I'm laughing. He's developed a genuine relationship with me.
This has begun to happen I think with Pete's cardiologists. He has two - a plumber and an electrician. In the past four months, we've been to their office at least twelve times. Pete's heart health has not been fine. And amidst us not being fine, they are respectful (they call him Mr. Scibienski) but they speak in friendly, loving tones. Pete banters back and forth with all of the staff, particularly the phlebotomist. (If we've been twelve times, he's had blood drawn at least six of those times.)
The Cardiologist's office has a salt water fish tank. I took these pictures yesterday.
We found out yesterday that the electrician/ cardiologist is going to have a baby. She told us as she was answering Pete's concern about a car accident they had over their vacation this past summer. He asked if they had working cars and how they were doing since the accident. She leaned back on the counter as she told us about totaling one car but not the other. She said she was getting a Subaru and then she went on to explain that she was going to have a baby and they needed to upgrade their car space. We told them about our family getting a Subaru for the same reason. All the while, none of us were itching to end the conversation and move on with our day.
I found myself saying little prayers for her afterwards, for her health and her marriage. I found myself excited for her and so happy to know her. And a full day later, I thought about her taking some leave and I worried a little bit. But only a little bit because she has her partner the plumber and the whole office knows us and cares about us. And it'll be fine. But this small amount of worry reminds me how important doctors are to the chronically ill. It's not just the expertise and the medication, it's the relationship and feeling safe while everything in life is so unpredictable and vulnerable.
In a healthcare climate where physicians are asked to see patients faster, where most patients often want a refill on their prescription rather than a relationship with their physician, where healthcare is expensive (particularly for those who are healthy because they are paying for those who are not), I'd like to say thanks for our team of doctors. Amidst the climate of healthcare, they also know the climate of our lives. They see the stress on my face and they see the stresses on Pete's body. In a world where the answer to "how are you?" is "fine," our team of doctors know we are anything but fine.