I’ve had a lot of different types of health insurance. HMO, POS, PPO, EPO, Kaiser. And I’ve had my own fair share of doctor and hospital visits. I’ve had dozens of x-rays (arm, nose, hand, fingers, chest, ankle, lungs), a handful of MRIs and CT scans (head), hundreds of blood draws, more ultrasounds than I can count (breast, uterus), about fifteen ER visits, an extended hospital stay, and a major surgery. Throw in Madeline’s medical history, and you have me – Someone Who Has Dealt With Approximately One Million Different Medical Professionals. So keeping this in mind (along with my degree from Google Medical University), I feel somewhat qualified to give today’s lecture entitled, “It IS Possible To Be A Good Doctor And A Decent Person (subtitle: Don’t Be A Douchebag).”
Stating the obvious: Doctors have a HARD job. We all know this. Life and death. I could never, ever do it, and I’m thankful that they can.
Doctors should never lie. I caught Maddie’s pulmonologist in a lie, and that was it. She lost my trust. Doctors, even when faced with anxious, fed-up, exhausted parents, should always, always be truthful. Even if it will upset the patient or the patient’s parents.
Doctors should conduct themselves with confidence. My former obstetrician acted frightened around me. I’d be sitting in the waiting room in her office, and I would hear her laughing with other patients. She’d walk them out to the waiting room, and when she’d see me she would literally stop mid-laugh, blanch, and back out of the room. She stuttered, hemmed and hawed, and often would answer my questions with, “I don’t know.” Do Doctors know everything? Of course not. But a better response would be, “I’m not sure, let me look it up.” Make the patient feel like you are trying to figure out their case. I know I had an extremely complicated pregnancy, but it would have been nice to think my doctor felt like she could handle it.
Doctors should always treat nurses with respect. When I changed health insurance a few years ago, I needed a new set of doctors. I found an OB/GYN that seemed nice enough. Then, when I was in the exam room with him, he yelled at the nurse that was with us, then called her a “dummy” when she left the room. I’ve also had doctors talk poorly about nurses to me, as if we were old friends gossiping. NOT professional. Nurses run hospitals and doctors offices. Nurses build relationships with the patients and their families. Nurses have to do a lot of dirty work that doctors ought to do. Nurses are AWESOME.
Doctors should be sensitive to the feelings of their patients and their patients’ families. A high-risk obstetrician said to me, “man, you’re having the worst pregnancy ever!” My former OB said, “you might not like what comes out,” when she was referring to then unborn Madeline. A NICU Resident once told me he was sure Maddie had cystic fibrosis even though she’d already had tests come back negative. The attending who was in charge of Maddie the night she passed came over to Mike and me and said, “We’re only going to do this for ten more minutes.” Only do this. THIS. THIS IS OUR BABY! OUR ONLY CHILD! She’s not an OBJECT! She’s a person! And then, for the next ten minutes, he shouted out how much time was left. “Eight more minutes! Four! Two!” When they stopped trying to save her, he walked away. He never told us he was sorry. The other doctors and nurses sobbed and hugged us. He stood off to the side and gestured for the doctors to come stand with him, and then he started talking about Maddie as if we weren’t there mere feet away, sobbing over her cold, lifeless body.
Doctors have a hard job. But I know it’s possible to be a good doctor and a decent person. I’ve had those doctors in the past and I curently have three now. There is more to being a good doctor than knowing medicine. Doctors, I beg of you! You need to use common sense. You need to listen to your patients and their families. And most of all, you have to have compassion. You never know when YOU might be the patient, or you might be the relative watching the love of your life die.
I laughed out loud at the title “It IS Possible To Be A Good Doctor And A Decent Person (subtitle: Don’t Be A Douchebag).” and think that YOU should be asked to address the medical profession on this topic at the soonest opportunity. I also came close to tears reading the horrible countdown by that bastard doctor. I come from a family of medical professionals and they are good doctors and good people, but many are not. And you certainly met too many of “those” ones.
I am so sorry Heather and Mike.
.-= Seraphim´s last blog ..Pandora’s Box =-.
tell it, mamaspohr. so so true.
.-= Alicia´s last blog ..outnumbered =-.
Yeah, douchebag. That about sums up that attending. I guess some become doctors out of compassion and others to feed their ego.
I know at least one doctor will read your post. Maybe she can spread it around at little.
.-= Ben´s last blog ..33 =-.
But I admit that I’m now left with a lot of hate towards that attending doctor. His mannerisms and words to you during that awful time…. well, I’ll never understand how someone could be so cruel. I’ve heard that sometimes doctors have to detach themselves emotionally in order to do their jobs right, but that was a bit much.
.-= Katrina´s last blog ..Laughter Therapy =-.
Oh my GOD! Yesterday I almost commented about the doctors telling you they’d only keep trying to save Maddie for 10 more minutes, but I decided not to mention it. They actually did a countdown??? Oh God. My heart goes out to you two more and more all the time. That is beyond shitty (excuse my language). I will stop now, I’ve probably said more than enough about that. … I am glad you have “Dr. Looove” and I really, really hope that you get better doctors in the future. A lot of what you wrote made me go “huh”? But that “10 minutes” and that countdown – I am just sick you were treated like that at the worst moment of your life.
For clarification, I meant “huh” because it seemed so out of whack for any doctor to behave like that (yelling at nurses, etc.).
“And then, for the next ten minutes, he shouted out how much time was left. “Eight more minutes! Four! Two!” ”
Sweet Lord, my heart dropped reading that. I can not believe that you had to deal with that at the worst time of your lives. What an a$$, I would have FREAKED on him. Jeez, I’m so mad and sad for you!
I totally agree with the rest of your post.. We can only hope that you have a few doctor readers who will take it to heart.
You, MIke and Maddie and in my heart and on my mind everyday.
I totally think that this entry should be the lead in for a required medical text.
what a terrible ordeal only made worse by an unsensitive ass of a doctor being there. And this comes from a nurse and an E.M.T. and also someone who wanted to go to medical school to become an ER doctor, but didn’t. Also I have spent a lot of time in doctor’s offices, the ER and hospital setting and have “seen it all”. I’ve also performed CPR myself, but thankfully never on a child. Never in my wildest dreams would I think of a countdown. I would have felt like slapping him. Seriously.
I’m sorry everyday that your beautiful Maddie isn’t here. I miss her so much for you and Mike. If I could turn back time and send her back to you, I’d do so in a mili-second. Eventhough your daughter is in heaven, I know that you feel like you’re in Hell and it IS SO UNFAIR!!!!
.-= Kathryn´s last blog ..Fun at the Baltic Sea =-.
Just wanted to come back and say excuse me Heather and everybody. I walked away and calmed down which is what I should have done before I commented the first time. I realize it was the one doctor who did that horrendous countdown and not all of them. My heart goes out to you and Mike that you were subjected to that. It’s amazing how protective I feel – and so many others feel – for someone I’ve never met. Sorry I let that get the better of me. … Keeping you in my thoughts and heart. (((Hugs))).
When my youngest was in the NICU, the doctor (who was a controlling wench) insisted she had a feeding disorder and that we must go to Boston’s Children’s Hospital they day she was released (in a blizzard). When I asked if we could reschedule for the next week, she told me “Well, you could, but if she doesn’t eat well. If she doesn’t eat her brain won’t grow. Then she will have brain dysfunction.”
After consulting with my Ped, I followed my instinct and never took her to the appt. She’s 18mo, smart as a whip and eats like a horse!
This is the same Dr. that ignored her milk allergy, even though my eldest suffered from the same thing, merely because she hates my Ped and doesn’t “believe” in milk allergies.
I have been reading your blog for a while- but I haven’t commented until now.
You receive so many responses- I suppose I haven’t felt right to add anything.
I was moved by something I read yesterday- well honestly – your words- your daughter’s beautiful eyes- it ALL moves me…
but these words ~”They say that all seven stages must be completed for healing to occur. I guess I’ll never be healed.”~
In reading comments to people experiencing loss I see the sentiment – ‘wishing healing’.. fast healing at that-
I am always left thinking the same thing..
I am not sure I would want to heal.
“healing” doesn’t have to mean acceptance.. even still sometimes I wonder if I could see it as anything else.
I can’t imagine facing an insurmountable hurt like this-
but I do think how ever any one feels has to be *right*- because it is real..
…and If your crushing heart break would be a reflection of anything- I can’t help but see the endless devotion- the love and care- the friendship- the bliss..
that must have been present to make the mark it has in your lives by being gone.
The extreme nature of your heart break speaks volumes of the power and significance of Madeline’s presence.
When I have held my friend’s hands- supporting them while they labour- waiting to give birth to their own children I often tell them this-
Let the intensity of the pain be a reminder of the power of your body.. try to see it as strength rather than pain..
It is impressive the lengths we can go- even when we don’t want to.
and while I would never be thankful- or appreciative of the amount of pain you are in-
I am in awe of how much it is a testament to the ferocious intensity in which you love your child.
I guess I personally think- sometimes NOT being healed just might be healthier.
Thank you for writing this. I lost my son shortly after Heather lost Maddie, that’s how I found her blog, and have been in a sense, grieving with heather. Reading her words have helped me in some ways. Putting it the way you did about “not” healing definitely makes sense to me. Thank you for that.
.-= Christy´s last blog ..About Perspective…. =-.
Some of them have a hell of a lot to answer for… Being HUMAN should be a prerequisite to a medical degree
I’m sorry that you had to deal with people like that at any time, let alone during the absolute worst moments of your life… Maddie leaving was already disgustingly wrong beyond belief, you really didn’t need any extra highlights =(
.-= Kelly´s last blog ..New office chair =-.
dysfunctional mom says:
This is a great post. I wish I could get away with posting a copy of it on all of the bulletin boards here at the hospital. We have some wonderful doctors. But then there are others….
I’m not sure if I’ve ever left a comment, but I doubt it because I’m just not sure what to say. I still don’t because everything I type sounds trivial. And stupid. But really, I’ll risk it to suggest this. I hope some day you get to give those doctors a piece of your mind, and tell them how badly their attitudes and behavior hurt you and Mike at the worst moments of your lives. I hope that for your sake, you get to really lay into them. I hope for other families, they hear it and take it to heart not to be total jerks. Their oath says to do no harm, so a part of me wonders if they don’t realize that their behaviors that are void of anything resembling humanity and compassion are doing just that. Major Harm. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I’ve been in and out of the hospital all my life, and I’ve had crappy doctors and great doctors. I don’t care if the doc is top in his field, if he’s a jerk I don’t want him near me. Bedside manner goes a long way in my book.
.-= Kristin´s last blog ..Winn Dixie 6/17 =-.
I too work at a hospital and wish that I could copy this and put it on certain people’s office doors. But I’m sure it would be ignored and brushed aside, and if they were forced to read it they’d try to justify the behavior of these physicians. I don’t understand how someone who supposedly went into medicine to “help people” (because they never say it was for the money, right?) can justify such behavior.
I would say file a complaint, but frankly, a physician at an academic hospital who brings in the research bucks and looks good on paper will never be fired.
I could go on but I’ll shut up now. I am so sorry you were treated this way. I really hope this entry is read by some of those physicians.
AMEN Heather! I work in the hospital and hear the countless reports from patient’s on doucebag doctors that make sly remarks about nurses. I do not think they realize that we nurses set the tone at the hospital. Thanks for the post! It IS spot on!
You need to forward this as a complaint to the AMA and to the physicians who treated Maddie the last time she was in the hospital. That was unacceptable behavior.
My thoughts exactly! I was going to say the same thing.
Also, I think you need to file a complaint with the hospital against that doctor. If needed, print out this post and give it to them.
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..Why heathcare reform needs to be done . . . =-.
I’m at a loss. I can’t believe the horrible things you’ve had doctors say to you
.-= Bec´s last blog ..Dora – the young years =-.
Adventures In Babywearing says:
Oh this tears my heart. I personally am wounded years later from the stupid remarks and actions from a couple of Noah’s doctors. I think maybe because I put so much faith and trust in them that they coil fix him, the harder I fell when they failed or treated me like an annoyance because I wouldn’t give up. One laughed at me when I asked about a certain treatment (the very thing that ended up healing him after we left that jerk) and another would sit there and be in wonderment at Noahs seizures while I explained what type he was having because the doctor had no clue. He also told us our little boy would probably end up in an institution. I’ll never forget that moment and we never went back.
Sorry… nerve hit.
Mary C says:
I thought about you often yesterday (and everyday), but yesterday your post was so raw and strong that every time I thought of you it was like the wind had been knocked out of me and tears would come to my eyes. Then today, the ugliness that this workd can bring! How can you ever forget those harsh times when all you want is those precious moments, but its taken away by the count down of the end of life by a doctor. Oh Heather I’m not sure where you find the strenght to write these heartfelt post, and tho we have never met I am here everyday as a friend for you. Ready to read anything you are willing to write. I’m here to cry, laugh and be angry with you.
Keep being as strong as you are. You have great memories and more pictures of your family in seventeen months then most have in a life time. YOU ARE A GREAT MAMA! A great role model.
Dance slow again today!
Hugs with lots and lots of love to you and Mike.
Anna Marie Hinnant says:
Jesus Heather. That NICU resident needs someone to beat him to a pulp. Why does a person like that go into pediatrics?? He was COUNTING DOWN THE TIME????? I’m floored by that.
This is such a good post, and one that all doctors should read. There was a anesthesiologist in the PICU with Thomas who said something so outrageous that I burst into tears and ran from the room, but at the time I didn’t have the energy or the courage to stand up to her.
Hugs to you and Mike. You are experiencing the unimaginable and you are still inspiring me.
Seriously, I want to walk into that hospital and punch that attending smack in his rude, uncompassionate face! I swear how he acted made me so upset this morning. I really hope you wrote a letter to that hospital telling them how you were treated by this doctor. My uncle works for a large hospital and seriously, those letters get attention. He needs to learn how to treat people going thru such a horrible experience. I’m mad for you right now. I am so so sorry you, Mike and Maddie were treated like that.
.-= Dana´s last blog ..Thu, May 28, 2009 =-.
I know what you mean about douchebag Doctors. Here are a few examples of my experiences:
I once had a dentist ask if I was sexually active, when I siad no, he siad “Why are you gay”…What does one have to do wtih another.
I had an OBGYN during a routine pap/physical call all her doctor friends in to see if they could find the cervex. Oh that was humiliating. “Yup I got it” as they all peered into my Vagina” then another days “Wow are you going to have a hard time gettting pregnant”. I was 24 and in college, not what I wanted to hear about what problems I would face in my adult life. I love the nonchalantness of it all too. Almsot like it is okay to say to a patient ‘ Wow that sucks for you’.
My obgyn called me fat (yes she used the word fat) when I first got pregnant and stated that she hoped that this pregnancy would help me lose weight. Mind you I am overweight, I openly admit this because clearly you can see this…but I can still clap, and touch all body parts, and even see most of them so fat might have been a bit harsh!
Later during my first emergency hospitalization (I lost all of my water with a slow leak through a torn membrane that I had not noticed. I knew there was a lot more fluid in thannormal but nothing like I had seen on TV so I figured it must just be normal. When I went in for a routine 2x weekly biophysical ultrasound the poor baby was pretty dry) the same OBGYN witht he wonderful bedside manner, told me not to worry too much that she (my sweet baby) was probably in utero long enoguh and it was not like she would die. I was 28 weeks along. It was too late to change Doctors at that point but boy did I want to.
It took me 12 years to find decent General Practitioner. THankfully he also sees my daughter and in the begining was hyper sensitive about the isues she could face. He sent us to many specialists who took a peek just in case. My insuramce company must have loved that!
So long borning story short there are many good doctors available you just have to go through an army of bad ones first. Maybe it helps you to appreciate a good one when you find them!
.-= charlane´s last blog ..The Cake is Awake! =-.
My son was born at term and appeared fine. 3 days later I was in NICU hell for two weeks. HIs oxygen sat. would dip all the time for no apparent reason. The worst thing for me was the test and the then “wait” for the results then the “wait” for the doctors to come tell you the results. Like ” Well you know your son COULD have brain damage but we will just find that out in say ohhhhhh 4 days…now have a great afternoon”. I have never wanted to punch so many people. I will never forget watching his heart ultrasound and the Cardiologist went to leave the room and never said anything and I said: “Dr. so and So is Sammy going to be okay” and he turned and said “oh his heart is fine” and I BECAME HYSTERICAL…where upon he looked at ME like I was nuts and my mother had to tell him SHE IS VERY CONCERNED about her child! He still didn’t really express anything other then disgust that I was making a “spectical” of myself. After 5 months I SELF PAID to fly my child to a better hospital and the doctors there said: If you came off the street with the baby we wouldn’t even treat him. He has thrived ever since. We do not know to this day what caused his “issues” but he seems developementally right on track. I care so much about you Heather. I pray for you everyday.
i am sorry you had to deal with such an desensitized prick. i’m sorry that he is connected with your daughter’s last moments – in such stark contrast to you and mike. i hope you never cross paths with him or anyone like him again.
my sister’s son was born at 30 weeks and had an incredibly challenging first year with monthly ER visits related to lung and breathing problems. during one particularly intense hospital visit the attending, someone they had never met, looked my sister in the eye and basically told her that because of her waiting too long to bring him in they very well might lose him that night. she hadn’t even examined him yet. that was about 9 months ago, and her son recovered, but to this day my sister is still haunted by those words, questioning her every move as a parent. her confidence is shot and she’s missing out on some of the joys of parenting by worrying too much. it is an ongoing struggle. if i could meet this woman, and then meet the man you describe, i would plead with them to recognize that their little words have power and to please, please use them wisely…and then i would punch them out.
i am so impressed with your ability to share and to express yourself….you continue to make me want to be a better person.
nic @mybottlesup says:
yes! a post that i feel i can actually contribute to other than, “i love you and i’m sorry and the world is fucked up.” well, actually, no, i’ll still say all that…
but…… doctors and i (particularly jackson’s doctors) have a very love-hate relationship. and if i EVER caught them in a lie (he has a team of doctors for his GI issues) i would go monkey ape shit on all them.
basically my issue with doctors, both mine and jackson’s is really personal…. no one believed us. no one believed that i could possibly have a child who was allergic to my breast milk…. no one believed that i had that rare 0% chance child who was so allergic TO MY BREAST MILK that no matter what elimination diet i tried, he was ill. i made my child ill.
all that aside…. once jackson got older and his food refusal set in (because eating was so painful) then cyclic vomiting entered into the picture. GI docs for the most part don’t believe in cyclic vomiting.
it didn’t matter how much research i did, how many doctors i contacted, how many ER visits we had, or how many weeks jackson has a feeding tube up his nose because he was too damn scared to eat.
no one believed us.
our light at the (what we hope is) end of our tunnel is jackson’s geneticist… who literally played investigator through our entire case…. my med history… husband’s med history…. and got to the root of jackson’s cyclic vomiting.
finally someone believed us.
the worst part though, is that because we had so many “professionals” telling us this couldn’t possibly be happening, it made us doubt ourselves as parents….. question whether or not we were imagining things or seeing them for being as bad as they really were at the time.
no parent should feel that way when it comes to caring for their child. doctors, nurses, hospital personnel, should all encourage the parent(s) that they are doing everything in their power to help. they need to BELIEVE US and trust that ultimately it’s the parent who knows the child best.
((((stepping off my soap box))))
ps- we’re at the beach and jackson is wearing a purple bathing suit for maddie today. it barely stays up on him because he’s so fucking skinny, but whatever. he likes it.
.-= nic @mybottlesup´s last blog ..poppy’s beach =-.
Nic, we too see geneticist. What kills me is that our pediatrician won’t deal with the condition my daughter has and anything related to it and that we are told to call the geneticist.
Since ER doctors won’t listen to me, the geneticist has drafted me a letter stating how to treat her condition. When did doctors quit listening to the patients (and their families).?
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..Why heathcare reform needs to be done . . . =-.
We have many of the same issues. Doctors passing the buck and not listening to a thing we say.
I would love an answer to the very question you asked.
.-= tiff´s last blog ..Poker Pumpkin Popcorn Face. =-.
Great post. Very very spot on.
The image I have of your last moments is haunting.
thank you for this. i was told yesterday my mom has what appears to be an incurable brain tumor. the doctor basically gave us NO hope, even though the biopsy results won’t be in for days. i was thinking he was trying to give us the worst case, so we could gather our strength and begin to fight, but now i just think he was wrong.
thank you for your posts. i am planning to refer to them often in the coming weeks.
Lynn from For Love or Funny says:
I agree with Kim – when a doctor’s behavior is downright heartless (like the Dr. treating Maddie on the night she passed), we have the option to alert the AMA, the medical board, and the hospital’s administration and board of directors.
I’m so sorry that when you lost Maddie, you also had to endure the insufferable attitude of that doctor.
.-= Lynn from For Love or Funny´s last blog ..Enter if you dare… =-.
Heather & Mike…like many others have already expressed, I can only imagine what those last (horrifying) moments of Maddie’s life must have been like for you both. I had an overwhelming sense of panic rising up in me just reading your words and your account of those last minutes…to have lived it must have been an absolute nightmare.
You’ve done so much to honor Maddie’s memory and create a lasting legacy for her…I implore you to report that attending physician to the hospital, its board of directors, the California medical board and the AMA. He does not deserve the honor of being present in another person’s last moments of life, and he was certainly not worthy of one second of Maddie’s life!! He has no business practicing medicine…let alone pediatrics. I am OUTRAGED on your behalf, and I think you need to let him know that you will always be haunted by his words and actions.
Sending you and Mike daily healing mojo from Boise!
Barbara Howard says:
Human beings have bodies connected to minds. If you want to grow up and be a doctor of human beings, you need to get that concept up front.
Do not tell me about your technical expertise and your incredible knowledge of your field and your years of study. I am unimpressed with you if you do not get it that you cannot treat the body and ignore the person it belongs to.
If you don’t relate well to people (who are, after all, the subjects of medicine), then you might as well be a ditch digger. In fact, people would be better off if you *were* digging ditches rather than practicing medicine without compassion.
Heather – I laughed at your Google Medical University comment. Just yesterday when I was at the doctor he was prepping me for the surgery I’m going to have and I was like “Well, what about this… You know I have an Internet MD.”When I was preggo the first time and we lost my son’s twin brother I researched EVERYTHING and ended up driving myself crazy. No medical journal can explain why my body failed to be normal.
The rest – well the rest just rips my heart out and horrifies me. I don’t even know what to say except I hope that that damn NICU attending gets payback Karma in spades. And I usually don’t wish that kind of grief and pain on anyone. But that, to conduct himself that way, just makes me want to vomit. And punch him. Hard.
Lots of love, hugs & strength.
between the doctor that told you “you might not like what comes out” and the attending who counted down when Maddie was dying, I’d say you’ve had your share of “douchebag” doctors and from now on deserve only the best. I am appalled knowing that Doctors say that kind of thing to people! I’ve been (mostly) fortunate, although when my daughter was in the NICU, we did have a Neurologist tell us to “expect the worst” because more than likely we would have a child “be anything but normal.” He was very condescending too and talked to us like we were children. Needless to say we did not go to him after she was released from the hospital and wound up with a different doc who talked to us as equals, in plain English and gave us quite a different perspective. And our daughter, health problems and all, is very normal to us!
Thank you for this post. I can only hope many doctors read it and take what you said to heart.
.-= momexperience´s last blog ..Holiday Road =-.
I’m lucky enough to have never (yet) had to deal with any major medical traumas. It enrages me to hear about the insensitive and unprofessional experiances others like you have had with doctors and other medical professionals. I hope even one person in a position to make a change reads this post and makes a positive difference in how s/he interacts with patients and their families.
.-= Heide´s last blog ..Happy Burfday to me =-.
They are all very bad examples…but the last one…the doctor that tried to recussitate Maddie….oh my……I feel like he shouldn’t even BE a doctor! I can’t beleive he said: “We are only going to do this for 10 more minutes.” Whatever happened to “We are going to do whatever we can.”
What an insensitive mouth-breather that attending physician was/is. Gah, I can barely type, I’m so angry and shocked. I would totally send a letter to the hospital about this guy; they may not do anything, but at least they will be aware that they have a major jerkwad on staff and can keep an eye on his attitude.
We were very lucky to be at the hospital we were at when I delievered Henry at 26 weeks 2 days. The doctors, residents and nurses were awesome and answered every question we had. Twice during rounds, I knew the answer to the question the attending doctor was asking but didn’t say anything. Didn’t want those residents to think I was standing them up! When I asked one of the nurses at my doctor’s office about a the possiblity of a second child, she replied “Well there is always adoption.”
Keeping you, Mike and Maddie in my thoughts and prayers.
You have gone through a lot, but i appreciate you using the hardships and trying to turn them into something more positive whenever possible- this is a great post and i hope many physcians will come across it. i hope they will read it, take it to heart, and put it into practice.
maddie is a beautiful spirit that lived for a while in a beautiful, spunky girl. she is no object, and anyone who could not see that needs our prayers. thank you that you leep writing and sharing her with all of us.
I’m in medical school right now. For what it’s worth, I hear you. I would never treat a patient the way you were treated (even before reading your post – I’m horrified at the doctor behavior you described). One thing I can tell you: medical schools are starting to realize that they have to try to teach empathy to some of the pricks they enroll, and they are trying.
Now, can you teach empathy to a prick? This is a good question, one which I really can’t answer yet. I’m only in my second year.
But again, for what it’s worth: I hear you. I will remind myself of your story when I’m that tired, sad, at-my-wits-end doctor and I’m presented with a patient or a family in need of emotional support.
I agree with the former posters that you should file a complaint. The only way to get through to pricks sometimes is to use a bullhorn, and doctors should NEVER be allowed to be that callous. “First, do no harm” extends to mental and emotional health, too.
My heart goes out to you every day, Heather. I don’t have kids so your loss is unimaginable to me, but I wish with all my heart that I could bring Maddie back to you and Mike.
.-= Emily´s last blog ..The bigger picture =-.
No, I don’t think you can teach empathy to a prick. Because the pricks are the arrogant ones who, despite how medically capable they are, will eventually let their cocky, self-riteous ways intervene in their “bedside manner”. They don’t tell you what they are doing because they are too cocky to take the time. They just do it or don’t do it and walk out of the room. My doctor dismissed my bleeding during 12 hours of labor and then when he realized he messed up, he is in the hot seat and the only thing he says to me is, “if you haven’t figured it out yet, we’re doing an emergency c-section.” It was all too late and 3 days later, my little boy, big, chunky, healthy and absolutely beautiful, died. Sorry, this topic is just too personal for me. It’s very sad and I am very, very sorry. Because these feelings, these moments, come out after the fact and you realize the insanity and you get angry and can’t get it out of your mind….
.-= Christy´s last blog ..About Perspective…. =-.
I am lucky to be the daughter of one of those decent caring doctors–but also watched, when it was his turn to be a patient, how terribly other doctors can treat a collegue. It was horrible!
So I totally agree with your list!
And–OMG Heather–that guy that said “10 more minutes.” I can’t even imagine how someone could say that. It’s incomprehensible and I’m so sorry you had to deal with that a-hole in the worst moment of your life.
.-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Underground =-.
Toni Conrad says:
This is so true. Before I went to have my daughter I was very concerned about pushing with the heart condition I had. It was always understood that I was going to have a C-Section and then one day it was decided I could push with an epidural. Well, I wanted to make sure with the Electriophysiologist (pacemaker doctor/cardiologist) and he was not my regular one. I asked him “Do you think I will be ok to push in 2 weeks or should I get a C-Section” and he replied to me “You never had a heart problem, you dont have a heart problem and you need to GET BACK IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING” Well, needless to say, I was NOT going back to that man. 2 weeks later I was diagnosed with Heart Failure, so he could have at least checked my heart. I bet he could have caught the failure earlier. Also during that appointment, his wife called his cell phone not 1 but 2 times and he answered and talked to her. AND he dictated a letter to my primary doctor AND he said we had to leave because his wife was waiting for him!!! Wonderful Doctor that I will NOT recommend!
.-= Toni Conrad´s last blog ..Getting Knighted =-.
Jennifer A. says:
I hate that you had to go through that in Maddie’s final minutes. That is probably the worst thing I’ve ever heard a human being do to another – and for you all to have to deal with that among everything else. Horrid. You should call him out and warn other women in the area against him – seriously. No parent should ever have to go through that and his license should be revoked for such insensitivity.
.-= Jennifer A.´s last blog ..Fifth Time’s a Charm =-.
Beautifuly written Heather. It is so true.. some doctors are fools and have no idea how to actually talk to a patient rather than just treat them. After my daughter was born I had some horrible medical issues and ended up being hospitalized for over a week. A few doctors were so kind and a few others treated me like an animal. It was awful.
Peace to you today….
I have to say I am pissed right now. NO ONE should be treated that way. I am glad you are having positive experiences with your doctor right now. Keep spreading the word. Thanks for the reminder to listen to your gut and to do something about it if you can. It pisses me off that day after day because of circumstances, insurance, and emotions people experience what you experienced.
Thanks for sharing. Hugs to you and Mike.
I am shocked by the behavior of the attending physician who oversaw Maddie’s care on the night she passed. The statement to you, the countdown — these are wholly unacceptable ways of addressing parents of a sick child. I completely understand if it is not something that you want to pursue. In fact, it is probably best to let it go. But part of me believes the incident warrants a letter to the hospital. It shocks the conscience that someone could be so insensitive, so cruel and so thoroughly unprofessional. At the very least, this behavior is misfeasance.
I think that some doctors believe that just because they’ve graduated from medical school gives them an MD in both BS and in DB (douche-baggery).
I’ve switched docs before because they treated me like I was an idiot, and I refuse to be treated that way, or to have anyone around the area, including nurses (because they do rock) treated that way.
We have an appt. with my son’s orthodontist today and if he treats me like a moron one more time we’re definitely switching.
.-= Randi´s last blog ..A Virtual Scarlet A =-.
Bridget's mom says:
And what I’d like to add to that post is if you don’t like/trust/believe in your doctor CHANGE doctors! I spent several years being misdiagnosed by doctor after doctor for a rare, and very painful nerve disorder. During that time I had more than 1 doctor label me “crazy.” When I finally got to the RIGHT doctor he knew in about 5 seconds flat not only that I was not crazy but what the disease was, and that there is no cure for it. But stili, at least it got a name that didn’t leave poor 20 year old me clueless what was wrong.
Over the ensuing 15 years I’ve had good doctors, bad doctors and 1 idiot who shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near people, but I kind of think that would be true of him in any job dealing with people….And I’ve had one phenomeonal doctor who actually was able to (temporarily) help me. Then he died.
.-= Chris´s last blog ..The shot that changed my life =-.
Hugs to you.
.-= Christine´s last blog ..I don’t like Mondays =-.
Some doctors just have no compassion and it’s just sad.
I couldn’t even begin to imagine going through the events of losing a child and then hearing the doctor say things like what were said to you and Mike. So sad and heart breaking.
Thinking of you today and always.
.-= AmazingGreis´s last blog ..Chicago or BUST… =-.
I could not agree more!!! My son’s orthopedist told me I needed prozac when my son was a 2 year old having a spinal fusion. When your baby has a anterior and posterior fusion, talk to me…until them…a book cannot tell you how to react to your child nearly dying as mine did.
My therapist told me I had one of the worst childhoods she had ever heard of. I didn’t walk out feeling good.
A few years ago my cousin died from leukemia. He was one of the “good” doctors. Relations aside, I would go so far to say that he was great. He was a wonderful OBGYN, very caring and compassionate.
I fired my OB when I was 6 months pregnant becasue I just couldn’t handle her unprofessional manner any longer. Everything from berating me for “gaining too much weight too fast” (4 pounds between a monthly visit after gaining almost nothing for 3 mos) to being ” morbidly obese (where she related HER experience maintaining the same weight throughout med school, residency, and two pregnancies) to being foreced to have a discussion with her IN THE HALL because there were no examining rooms available. I switched to a midwife who was wonderful. Imagine my dismay after a tough labor that went no where after over 30 hours and I had to have an emergency c-section. SHE was the one performing the procedure. She told me I’d never be able to deliver vaginally. Once the sheet came up, it’s as though I disappeared. She chatted with the resident who was asssisting like she was working on a cadaver instead of a first time mother. Never once spoke to me while she was cutting me open. I called her out while laying on that table. Told her she better stop chit chatting and make sure she didn’t leave anything inside of me that didn’t belong.
I think all doctors should have a “compassion rotation” where they have to follow the hospital chaplain around.
You said it perfectly Heather.
A-fing-MEN to that, girl.
.-= Melina´s last blog ..The one where I loathe summer… =-.
Wow, I am so sorry you had to hear that from the doctor. This is just further confirmation that doctors in this country have serious bugs up their asses. And that is the nicest way I could have worded that last sentence. If I get started, I won’t shut up. But with someone that has had to deal with way too many in the medical profession (and nasty insurance companies) myself, you’re totally right.
.-= Elaina´s last blog ..Quick update up at Fiddle Dee Dee =-.
When I read your post today I cried out in anger and disbelief. Too think anyone would basically do a count down to your daughters passing! IT MAKES ME SICK!!!
I would not be surprised at all if both you and Mike suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome after witnessing something so heart wrenching! You must have been beside yourself.
I was going to suggest what some other already did. I would not only write the Director of the hospital but I would also go above their heads to the powers that be. And, if you do…you make sure you ask for a written response as to what the consequences will be for the ASSHOLE”S actions.
My girlfriend did that and received a bunch of letters from the department and she was finally told, the person responsible for causing so much hurt was fired!
I’m so sorry the ASSHOLE did this to you, Mike and Maddie. I am so glad you are going to therapy and you have the strength to share all you have with us. I hope by doing so, we have helped you, even if it’s just a little.
As always, you are all always in my thoughts, prayers and my heart.
Take Care Heather and Good Luck with whatever you decide to do about the ASSHOLE!!
Your Stranger Friend,
I loved that post and I know a little how you feel. I am an only child of a widowed mother and when I was 21 she was in the hospital (again). However this time she ended up in the ICU and incidentally had the worst doctors EVER. She was very confused where she was and wanted to talk to me but physically couldn’t and one doctor kept refering to her with the wrong name. I corrected her NICELY (very hard to do) and she continued to do it. So of course I freaked out on her and she said, “I have a lot of patients under my care. I’m stressed today.” I said, “I’m sorry, but I only have one mother and she’s dying… I’M A LITTLE STRESSED TODAY.”
Another doctor pulled me aside and said, “I’m sorry she should not have behaved like that.” I said, “just get her out of here. How do you trust someone who can’t even get the patient’s name correct?”
The nerve of people.
Take care of yourself. I pray for your family daily.
you are so right. I am a NICU nurse and I have seen the good the bad and ugly in doctors all shapes and forms. I totally agree that a compassionate doctor makes the difference every time. I have a daughter that was born with a club foot and I fired my first pediatric surgeon because I caught him in a lie. He just sat there flipping through my daughters chart like he was going to find evidence of him not telling me a lie. I told him what he told me and I am not a stupid human being and I don’t appreciate being treated that way. I then told him that I was leaving his practice and going to another doctor. He acted like I would find no other doctor better than him. I of course found a wonderful one for my daughter that we are still with 3 years later. The important lesson we as patients and advocates for those who can’t protect themselves should learn is: we all must speak up and tell these doctors how we feel. If no one ever tells them, then they believe their behavior is fine. It is never fine, not ever.
I am so sorry for your loss and I hope that with each passing day it gets easier to celebrate Maddies life and lessens the burden of your grief. It takes years to heal and no one should ever tell you otherwise. If it is at all a comfort, your stories of the fabulous Madeline are a favorite part of my day and will continue to be for as long as you chose to write them.
Heather – My god. My heart just breaks to think of what you went through in that room, hearing that awful ‘countdown’. I don’t suppose that there’s anything that would make that doctor see how he contributed to the trauma of that night. Or anything that could come out of it that would ease your grief even if he did. But thank you for writing this anyway. I hope there will be doctors out there that read it and reflect.
My son developed ARDS after his second spinal fusion in April 2008. He’ was 10 and not expected to live. It was an anesthesia MISTAKE because he developed it because he is a difficult intubation and she pulled his breathing tube too soon after surgery. He couldn’t breathe. It had taken over an hour to intubate in the OR and now she had seconds to get it back in. She gagged him, he aspirated.
She kept coming in the room telling us how “sorry” she was and I just wanted to smack her. If my son had died, I might have smacked her. I was so upset that I told the asttending PICU doctor to keep her out. He survived, thank goodness and is doing okay….but no thanks to her. His 3-day stay was 33 days.
Those are some pretty horrible doctors experiences. And as with the other commentors, I am especially horrified by the last doctor’s behavior.
One of my best friends is a PICU nurse – I hear this from her a lot.
One of my other best friends is a pediatric oncologist. He play Rock Band with his patients and cries with their parents, and keeps in touch with some of them past the point of care. I love him for that.
.-= EDW´s last blog ..Most days we just lay around the castle =-.
Corinne Cooper says:
so horrified at what happened to you….& a count down….lets hope what he did to you & Mike haunts him for the rest of his life
Lisa in WI says:
Very well put. My mom passed away from gall bladder cancer two years ago, and in the nine weeks from the time she was diagnosed until she died, all of her doctors were great except for one. And unfortunately he’s the one I remember more so than the ones who were good to her.
.-= Lisa in WI´s last blog ..Walk it Off =-.
Dear Dr. Heather,
You are amazing. You should be hired by UCLA to teach a class on bedside manner. I can see it now:
“How not to be a douchebag”
It should be required for all Med students.
.-= AMomTwoBoys´s last blog ..Lessons Learned from Weekends Past =-.
I’m glad you took the time to write this. I hope a doctor or two reads it and takes what you say to heart. Having a good doctor can make all the difference. I wish things had been different for you the night Maddie passed and all through you pregnancy.
.-= Lisa´s last blog ..Establishing Good Sleep Habits =-.
I am sorry your time at the hospital with maddies passing was a horrific expernice for you. I would go after the doctor who didnt treat you with kindness and respect. I am sickend by it. Hugs and prayers
I cannot believe how that attending treated you three! The countdown…OMG the countdown…I have never heard of something so cruel. And talking about you like you weren’t even there…could he be any more jaded?
I’m so sorry that that is what you have to remember in the worst moment of your life, instead of at least being comforted by the kindness of those around you.
.-= Candice´s last blog ..And you think the economy in Michigan sucks… =-.
moosh in indy. says:
I’m still sending Ninjas out for Dr. TenMoreMinutes.
I wish I had more words to say than what an asshole that doctor was/is but I don’t. I too would suggest filing a complaint but I’m sure it would go on deaf ears.
One thing I might suggest is to to speak to the head of residency – make an appointment if you have to but speak to them. My ex-brother in law was the chief when we was a resident and I *know* for a fact he would have listened and he would have said something.
Oh my. I have spent my fair share of time in the hospital advocating for others in the past four years and seen some of the behavior you’ve described. But the behavior in Maddie’s last moments – not okay. Like you needed that to be said. But, again: NOT OKAY. My god.
When my mom had cancer we were never lied to exactly, but we were definitely not told the whole truth a number of times. After telling us my mother had something called leptomeningeal disease, the doctor just said it was “serious.” Yeah – it took about 15 minutes of questions from me to translate that into “incurable and fatal within a few weeks.” (But: oops! She didn’t have it and lived another 2+ years, so it turned out the real mistake was telling us she had it based on an MRI and not waiting for a spinal tap.)
But on the other hand, there was my mother’s attending who one day answered about 30 minutes of questions when she was in the hospital. He looked puzzled and seemed just a TINY bit annoyed. I couldn’t figure out why until the next day when he saw me and my sister together and said “Oh! There are two of you.” (We look alike.) He’d been patiently answering all of my questions, thinking he’d just answered them THAT MORNING. (We had a list but hadn’t talked in the interim.) I’ll always appreciate how patient he was even though all of the evidence pointed to me being a total moron.
I’m haunted by the similarities between Maddie’s story and Bridget’s story: two little girls born after difficult pregnancies with incredibly challenging first few months. For the next 14 months or so, medically challenging but basically stable course with hope at the end of a tunnel (outgrowing preemie lungs for Maddie, a kidney transplant for Bridget). Even similar relationships with their dogs and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
And then, a sudden, acute event that took away such a sweet light so soon. May they both rest in peace.
i have read your blog and never commented. I am a pediatrician and a parent and cannot ever imagine going through what you have, although unfortunately i have seen my fair share of tragic outcomes in children.
when and IF you feel up to it, i would really encourage you to seek out those departments/divisions and give direct feedback. i know of parents attending faculty meetings months after events or deaths and telling them “you made me feel terrible” or “you never once spoke to me the entire time you were on service caring for my child” or “how you handled that made me lose confidence in you.” that’s the most powerful feedback i can imagine, to hear that from a parent. it doesn’t fix anything for you, but hopefully would make them consider their actions more when dealing with difficult situations in the future.
most of us go into medicine for the right reasons, but some need help being aware of how our comments are heard by families. there is no excuse for insensitive and dismissive behavior like this. i am sorry you had to deal with that on top of the nightmare of losing your precious daughter.
My mother, a retired RN, had the opportunity to work with two of my husband’s high school classmates when they became residents.
One, a super nice guy along with being smart, was a joy to work with. He went on to become a good doctor, quite kind.
The other- a complete doucebag. Snotty. Mean as snakes. Oh, he was intelligent enough, but rude to patients, rude to nurses. Never missed a chance to belittle a peer if it made him look good.
When he erred (failed to remove vaginal packing from a patient post op), instead of quietly bringing it up to him, my mother wrote it in BIG LETTERS in RED INK on the patient’s chart. DOCTOR FORGOT…
And in the decades that have passed, which MD do you think has been sued, multiple times?
Being compassionate apparently helps to reduce the number of lawsuits. A doctor acting like he or she doesn’t give a shit makes patients very, very angry.
Your post is one that all doctors should read.
I cannot believe the lack of kindness in that one attending who worked on Maddie. Who is so cold that they cannot say “I’m so sorry”?
Hopefully, someone reading your words will take them to heart and learn from them.
Thinking of you every day, as always.
Oh, I meant to echo those who suggested writing the powers-that-be, and those above them, if you have it in you to revisit those moments and that behavior. Under normal circumstances, your letter would get some attention.
With your audience and most hospitals’ reliance on fundraising for budgets, a letter from you should get a very rapid response.
You are amazing. I am so sorry that you have had all of these horrible experiences but am so incredibly grateful that you had Maddie. Your family has taught mine so much.
amy vw says:
I was floored when I saw your mention of the “ten more minutes” they gave for trying to save your sweet baby. It just broke my heart. How can anyone be that heartless to put a time limit on a baby?
I’ve seen some less than stellar bedside manner in my dealings with doctors and hospitals. My dad was terminally ill with ALS and his primary care doc told him during his routine physical that he was “lucky” because something else would “kill him long before ALS did”. He happened to have a slow moving case and I think the guy was trying to make him feel better. Or not. Turned out the guy was right, but his comments were shocking at the time and not what my dad needed or wanted to hear.
My mom had her own set of issues (alcoholic, which we did not know until she was in end stage liver failure). I had a social worker tell me (during her emergent hospitalization where she nearly died initially) that all her problems were my fault (!!! and ???) and a bunch of other crap. This all being thrown at me as I was learning the diagnosis and that she had been a high functioning alcoholic for decades and that this was a terminal situation. But hey, it was all my fault! I could have somehow prevented something that had been going on without my knowledge since I was child. Uh, yeah.
During my pregnancy with my Madelyn, I had GD. Upon diagnosis of this, my midwife freaked out and lectured me on my eating habits, because I must have been a sugar junkie to get a dx like that. Started telling me horror stories about stillbirth and all the problems/complications babies can have as a result of GD. And then she refused to see me for the rest of my pregnancy and pushed me off onto another person in the practice. When I delivered my daughter, this woman had the nerve to call me to check how things had gone. What made this even more irritating is that I had a borderline case (at best), but was also told by a staff OB in my midwife practice that he did not think I had it at all.
I think the absolute worst was when Madelyn was 9 weeks old and ended up with RSV. She was very sick and we were scared. We had two other kids and knew this was not a typical cold. Ped office sent us to urgent care, and the doc on staff there laughed at me, called me hysterical and asked me what type of medical degree I had when I mentioned RSV (which our ped wanted her tested for). He basically waves us off and sent us home with a very sick baby. But not before he tested out M’s startle reflex just for fun. We ended up in the ER which was even more maddening later that night…tainted RSV test, false negative, discharge instructions with cold medication dosages meant for a 3 year old child (baby was 9 weeks old!), etc. It was a mess. And we did not get a proper DX until we went back to our ped the following week b/c she was no better.
My thoughts are with you guys. Thank you for sharing your baby with all of us.
I agree with AMomTwoBoys. Maybe we could simulcast it across the country to all med schools. They could have it during their Essentials for Clinical Medicine class(aka Social Work for Dummies, er, I mean Doctors), a real class that my husband had to take.
But seriously…like Emily said above: they are trying. Not that that makes what he did any better. And I’m sorry for all the unnecessary crap you’ve had to deal with.
.-= Bridget´s last blog ..The One I Forgot To Title(Or Who I’m Reading) =-.
You are so right Heather. I’m so sorry you and Mike had to deal with this at the time of Maddie’s passing. Unfortunately compassion doesn’t come easy for everyone. That attending douchebag needs a swift kick in the ass for being so cold!
lisa wood says:
I am not good with doctors…..Actually i have not been back to the doctors in awhile and it is due to lack of trust.
I watched my Aunt die from bone cancer awhile ago, and then my husband David sister died from breast cancer/brain tumor. The doctor that was there when she passed away, put on the paper work “heart Failure”…when it should of said Breast Cancer lead to heart failure.
I have had a few medical issues and now refuse to seek the doctors help unless I am in real need, just because of their lousy beside manner, and they way they can never tell you how it is.
Your story has broken my heart all over again…Sweet Maddie should never have been spoken about like that…no one deserves to be treated like that.
I hope the Doctor count down never has to see one of his family members be given the “count down” if they are ever in need of medical help.
What comes around, goes around.
Sweet Maddie, may you always be smiling.
Love sent to all three of you.
Hugs from a distance
.-= lisa wood´s last blog ..Arthritis =-.
I’m not a pediatrician like Sarah above. I just play one on tv. Oh wait, never mind.
But I was actually going to say the same exact thing she did, just as a mom who’s had a sick child and lots of doctors. When you feel ready, you should write a withering letter to that doctor, and cc the head of his department, and the head of the hospital, and whoever else. Write from your heart, just the way you do here. That man needs to know that what he did was shameful and awful and he should never treat another family that way.
Even if it has no real tangible consequence other than making YOU feel better, it’s worth it.
I think of you and Maddie all the time…
.-= Jennifer´s last blog ..It Goes to Eleven. Not. =-.
Wow. I’m so mad right now. Mad for you guys, and mad for Maddie. I wish I had the right words…
.-= Notesfromthegrove´s last blog ..One Week =-.
I think doctors are like people. Some are just butt holes. I think they may all start out the same, but some just let the hard stuff get to them and they turn into butt holes as self preservation. I have to wonder if there is a reason why they would only work on Maddie for 10 minutes…was it explained to you why they only could try for 10 minutes to save a life? I am assuming there is a reason, but that Dr. needs to know that if there is a reason, he needs to explain it so you and Mike do not have to sit and wonder for the rest of your life. I wonder if the doctor knew that his comment would place the burden it did on you if he would think twice before having a countdown next time he faces that situation. Maybe a letter, does not have to be nasty, is in order. Maybe he can learn that the lack of explanation can send a grieving parent into wonder and anger for years to come. I know we have a choice to leave drs. that we don’t like, but when you are in an emergency situation, you don’t have time or choice of who’s hands you are placing your loved one in. I had a dr. once that was refusing to treat me for Lyme even though I tested positive for it. She wanted to watch me to see what happens, and when I told her that I researched it with friends and the Internet and said that waiting could cause permanent damage, she reminded me how long it took her to get her degree and how I should listen to the person who knows what she is doing. I was shocked, went to a different Dr. and found out I was right…immediate treatment is imparative. I called her back and told her and also told her that I know she does not care what I think about her but told how arrogant she was and how no matter how much training she had, she is not above listening to her patients needs. I felt better because it floored her, so maybe she will think twice before being so important. Maybe if you write a letter to this Dr. and tell him how it made you feel, he might just think twice about his comments and countdowns and maybe he can try to figure out a way to change his crappy personality. I know he sees a lot of bad stuff all the time, but for you, that horrible night was your first time seeing that, and he should find some empathy in his heart. If he doesn’t know how to treat people, since they do not teach that in medical school, he should make an effort to learn because he is missing his calling. Treating Madeline did not end when her life stopped, he still had to take care of her parents. He failed and I can only hope he realized this in some way and is able to make a change for the future. We all feel good when we do the right thing. What is the point of being a doctor if you can’t make a difference in everyone you touch? The outcome may not change, but the after effect of how he acts in the crisis can be altered with just an ounce of empathy.
Amen. ( The jerk really said 10 more minutes)
I’m glad you have some nice doctors now.
.-= Debby´s last blog ..THE BIG BED =-.
I’m not sure if the “worst pregnancy EVAH” comment would have bugged me, because I probably would have already thought that myself and long suffering me would sniffed and said “yes. Yes I am!”
Have you and Mike lodged a complaint against the doctor who worked on Maddie the night she died? You’re a smart cookie, so you probably already considered it, but if not, when you’re ready, I would. I know that doctors deal with life and death situations every single day and that they probably become jaded, but you have t muster up at least some compassion (fake it ’til you feel it) when you’re working on someone’s child. :o(
.-= Jamie´s last blog ..Menu plan Monday =-.
Well said! I don’t like to cuss on comments, but when I read that the doctor was actually counting down the minutes when he said “we are only going to do this for ten more minutes” my response OUT LOUD was “are you fucking kidding me?”. How can they be so freaking insensitive like that? It is because that is what happens…they get desensitized? I think a law needs to be passed to mandate doctors to go through Bedside Manners 101 every few years so they remember how they need to treat the patients and their families. Better yet, remember common sense!
Oh, I am so fired up right now! I do hope many, many doctors read this post!
Hugs from TX!
If even one doctor reads this and takes it to heart, you’ve done good. What an awful lot you’ve been through. I don’t what else to say, except that I’m thinking of you.
.-= Casey´s last blog ..Pretty in pink =-.
Oh, and I couldn’t agree with Jennifer more that you need to write that doctor a letter when you feel ready. He NEEDS to know about his actions.
Andrea's Sweet Life says:
Well said! We had a horrible time with Blythe’s doctors at Kaiser. They wouldn’t even LOOK at her, just at her file. There was something WRONG with my BABY and they told me I was just imagining things.
We got out of there as quickly as possible, and went back to my favorite doctor in the universe, who quickly diagnosed her, got us to a specialist, and gave me a huge hug. THAT? Is bedside manner.
Now if he’d stop threatening to retire!
.-= Andrea’s Sweet Life´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: The Awwww Edition =-.
Kristi of Million Dream Mom says:
Excellent post. I hope it makes a difference with some doctors. I worked for orthopaedic surgeons for almost six years and I’ve seen some awesome docs and some terrible doctors (in terms of bedside manner, at least).
Also, when I was 16 I got pregnant. It probably goes without saying it was unplanned. I’d always wanted children, but obviously not so early, and I am pro-choice but could never get an abortion myself, so I went through some pretty tough emotional times. And then I had a miscarriage. “Blighted ovum”, they found it on an ultrasound, I had to go get a D&C to have it removed. Which felt WAY too much like it was my fault for not wanting the baby enough at that point in my life. And while I’m in the doctor’s office trying not to cry as he’s oh-so-casually imparting this news to me, he goes on to tell me that I shouldn’t have been pregnant at sixteen anyway so it’s really for the best, and you know it’s happened to his wife a couple times and it’s really fairly common for women. blah blah blah, no big deal, right?
I’m 30 now and I can still recall that moment with perfect clarity, his casual judgment of me and my situation as I sat there feeling like I’d killed my baby and trying not to show that my world was crashing down around me.
I can’t imagine how the two of you felt with that horrible attending physician. If you need someone to come and punch him out, let me know.
.-= Kristi of Million Dream Mom´s last blog ..Sandusky Vacation, Day Two =-.
Lady Lemon says:
Heather- what a shitfuck that doctor was! Who could treat human beings that way?? Being a doctor is more than a regular job, and if a person is going into that field they need to be prepared to handle it ALL.
I’m so sorry that you weren’t treated with more sensitivity at such a difficult moment. That is sickening.
.-= Lady Lemon´s last blog ..No, no. I’m Meeester Neusbaum. =-.
I’m at a loss for words…..
Hugs to you and Mike!
Oh my heart broke even more for you reading about the doctor counting down the minutes of doing “this”. Wow,just…wow.
I have worked with so many doctors and so many nurses, I’ve worked with patients, I’ve worked in a hospital and volunteered in a Peds Acute Care unit, and I think the list is awesome, spot on, and applies to ANYONE working in health care, with patients, with patient’s parents, siblings, children, and friends.
.-= Lesha´s last blog ..Coincidence that the Shred is 30 days and I have about that much time left to look good in a swim suit? =-.
I’m sorry you have come across such assholes. This post should be published.
.-= mamaloves´s last blog ..june pictures =-.
This should be required reading for every doctor, nurse, healthcare professional.
It should be posted in every dr’s offic and hospital and clinic.
My heart dropped to my toes at that asshole counting down the minutes.
That, imo, was completely unnecessary.
5 weeks till hugs.
.-= rachel-asouthernfairytale´s last blog ..Why I Do =-.
Debbie B says:
My 21 year old son is in the process of applying to med schools. He is only focusing on the best of the best because he thinks that the name of the school on his diploma is what his future patients will be most interested in. I have tried to tell him that the school he graduates from is not as important as his “bedside manner” and his reputation. A good education is obviously important, but a degree from the best school means nothing if you don’t know how to talk to your patients and their families. He’ll be coming home from school (UCSD) today and I am going to have him read your post. Maybe he’ll listen to you.
I just wanted to say I admire your strength and perseverance despite the loss of your beautiful Maddie. I read your posts almost everyday and by the end of each I’m brushing away my tears. I’ll pray for continued strength for you and your family.
When my son had to have major orthopedic surgery a few years back, people were suprosed with our surgeon of choice. “He has a terrible bedside manner” they said, “He is rude and not forthcoming”.
I had to put aside my want of someone nice (you’re right that is what nurses do best) because he is also the best Orthopedic surgeon in the state of California. I can deal with a grunt or a non-answer, I can probe for more info, but I wanted to make sure my boy had the best there was.
I think you have a way with words. A gift really. And maybe just maybe, another way to pay tribute to Maddie is to write (or have others write) very poignant complaints as high up as they can go so that doctor will never ever hurt anyone else again.
Oh, how sad and horrible that that doctor gave your Maddie’s life a 10 minute deadline!
Doctors are gatekeepers to some of life’s most memorable (good and bad) moments. I think if I were a doctor I would constantly remind myself that this is a moment that the patient may relive, over and over again, for the rest of their lives. When you look at it that way, being as perfect as you can be in how you treat people is so important!
you say things in such an awsome way…..thank you for this posting this morning. I am sorry that you went through this. I couldnt even imagine….
Dana Zap says:
I seriously can’t stop thinking about that jerk doctor who treated you guys like that during your tramatic last time with Maddie. Please, please tell us you’re going to write a letter to that hospital! I’m so mad I want to write it myself! I swear I would have lunged at him and ripped his head off!
.-= Dana Zap´s last blog ..Thu, May 28, 2009 =-.
I’m going to medical school in the fall, and whenever I read an article like this, it reminds me to never become jaded and never forget that although we as doctors see many patients per day, for each patient it could be a life-changing experience.
I’ve wanted to be a physician for almost my whole life, but sometimes I wonder if I can handle medical school. It breeds competitive behavior, and often the residents and attendings abuse the students, which perpetuates this cycle when the students become residents. The ones who can survive the ordeal are generally the more aggressive and less sensitive ones.
Every doctor should read this. And the Countdown Doctor should be sent for sensitivity training. Sure, there’s got to be a level of detachment, but this is a person, a baby, someone’s life and love and joy, not a ‘this’ to be considered expendable. Life. Love. Joy. Human. Being. Baby. Girl. Has that man no feelings left in him?
.-= Andrea´s last blog ..Progress Is As Progress Does =-.
It’s such a shame that Dr’s have such a “God complex” and they think they’re above it all; they would never dare to put themselves in the position of the patient or family and show some compassion. What happened to bedside manner? God help us with the state of healthcare now, I fear things will get worse with Nationalized/Universal healthcare.
My aunt was recently diagnosed with lung cancer and I was with her when she got the news. The Dr. delivered the bad news, told her the next steps, then without so much as a shake of the hand, exited the room. That pi$$ed me off to no end.
good bedside manner goes a long, long way. It should come with the title, I think.
.-= ali´s last blog ..what dinner is like… =-.
Heather, how can you get Doctors to see this????
What you’ve written needs to be seen by Doctors!!!!!!!
Doctors, anyone who knows a Doctor: please have them read this!!
Heather, I would love to print this out and post it in the lounge for the residents to read. If you see this, let me know if that is ok with you. They should learn these lessons while they are starting out. I wonder who that attending was? I would like to tell him what I think of him, right before I kick him in the b@%#$!
I happen to hate doctors, well aside from my FAMILY. Did I tell you that my dad got his degree for practicing medicine on The Internet? We’re very, very proud.
.-= Becky´s last blog ..…And Still Insists She Sees The Ghosts =-.
Someone needs to punch that last doctor you talked to in the teeth. I totally volunteer. Email me his name and I will FIND HIM. What an ASSHOLE!!
Oh my… I am *horrified* by the last doctor. Horrified. What a callous person. I am so sorry that you had to deal with someone like that.
Meanwhile, I agree with you on all points. While a doctor’s job has to be hard, they have to appreciate what and who they’re working with… and be sensitive to it all.
.-= Ari´s last blog ..Do you know me now? How about now? =-.
I’ve read your blog but like someone else said, I’ve never commented before because my comments always seem trivial and stupid. I’m so sorry about everything you have been through including your bad experiences with the medical community. I am a doctor. The majority of us are kind, caring and competent human beings. Unfortunately there are some doctors who really are douchebags. As I witnessed in medical school, some of the brightest individuals have little to no people skills. In the past, medical school curriculums didn’t spend a great deal of time teaching bedside manner – I do believe that has changed in recent years.
Thank you for your post. I have definitely learned a lot from it.
.-= Lori´s last blog ..My Time Capsule =-.
my heart broke into a million pieces again when i read about that doctor. what a miserable life form. anyone with that little compassion doesn’t deserve to be a doctor. yes, being a doctor is hard. you should report him & make sure that everyone knows what he did – he fully deserves it. i’m so sorry heather. so many hugs to you. xoxo
oops – one of my sentences got left out – i said, yes, being a doctor is hard, but so are SO MANY other jobs in life. and the people who come out ahead, imo, are the ones that do what they do with kindness and compassion. ESPECIALLY anyone in the medical profession. end rant.
Hearing your description of Maddie’s last minutes horrifies me. I wish I could find words more adequate than I’m sorry, but I really truly am sorry.
As an aside, you should know that I am wearing purple today, and not a day has passed since Maddie passed that I haven’t seen the color purple and thought of her. She is always remembered.
Miss Grace says:
I worked for a surgeon who was of the incredibly talented unbelievable ASSHOLE variety. The awful things he would say to/about patients would just blow my mind.
And he was legendarily good at what he did, but such a jerk that his practice really did suffer.
Doctors need to realize that they’re dealing with people, not objects to be studied.
This, is the main reason why I have serious doubts about going into med school. It terrifies me to think that med school might suck the soul out of me and make me one of ‘those’ people. For the past 3 years, I think about this everyday.
So many people go into med school wanting to ‘help’, but sadly, by the end of it, they forget the reason they went to med school.
I’m truly disgusted, and so very sorry that you had to encounter such a moron. Unfortunately, there’re more morons than there are true doctors nowadays.
Personally, I’ll choose a doctor who doesn’t know everything, but has compassion, over a heartless soul who knows everything.
This should be published in EVERY. SINGLE. medical mag, journal, book, etc.
Wow. I can not believe those DR.’s! That is absolutely horrible.
.-= Amy´s last blog ..The BoHo Skirt =-.
wow. I am now really p-o’d at the dr from the night Maddie passed away. What a jerk. Not that he deserves a nickname, but if so I’d call him Dr. Jack@$$. Just sayin.
.-= Jill´s last blog ..What you get when you log into your 15 year old’s facebook account =-.
april in NJ says:
Oh Heather… how horrible that your experience was tainted by that (pardon my french) a-hole of a doctor! I would have bitch slapped him in the face every time he counted down (again, sorry for the language). As others have said, how horrible that those last 10 minutes were counted down like that… and you have every right to be angry. I’d write a letter… to the doctor, the practice he’s associated with, the hospital, the newspaper in your county… let everyone know what a jerk off he is (again, sorry!).
Hoping your next experience with doctors is much much much better.
april in NJ says:
Want to apologize… that last line I wrote seems very stupid now… writing before thinking obviously. didn’t mean to seem insensitive.
Thanks for sharing this post! Great post! There are many insensitive Doctors. They detach themselves from their emotions, not realizing that they themselves will be the “patient” someday. My heart breaks for you and Mike. Sending you hugs! XO
I understand that doctor’s have a hard job to do and God knows I wouldn’t want to do what they do…but are you kidding me!!! To countdown like that!!! That is completely Inexcusable! Oh my…..I am soooo angry. How dare he treat ‘our’ Maddie like that! She deserved better than that.
I am so sorry that you & Mike are having to live this nightmare. It is sooo friggin unfair that this happened to you and every other parent that has to go through this unimaginable hell!!
I am crying tears of anger I would do anything to bring back that precious little girl.
My love to you and Mike, Jenn in CA
Great post! This should be posted in ALL hospitals, doctors’ offices, and medical schools!
Unfortunately, there’s no EQ (emotional quotient) required for med school. The people who get in are in based purely on GPA and unfortunately, some of the most anti-social (or socially inept people) have great grades.
Fortunately, I have had many fantastic experiences with doctors. But some have been appalling. When we lost our third child in his final trimester, I was told in a follow up exam, “Well, at least you have two healthy boys at home. That’s more than some people have you know.” Yes, I know. That doesn’t make his passing any less painful.
Still, those are the few. In general, I have had wonderful health care.
.-= mandy´s last blog ..Updates? My Update =-.
I had a doctor ask me ‘And what medical school did you graduate from?’ when I took my son in for an ear infection I knew he had, and he did.
I personally think a mother’s instinct about your child carries more weight than lots of things, even a medical degree. Hopefully this jackass WITH a medical degree thought 2x before making a snarky comment to the next parent of the next sick child he saw! I’m sorry you had to deal with that.
~ Michele in Staten Island, NY
Davina Ferris says:
I urge you to write many, many letters to the hospital and to the OB’s practice. Hell, print out this post as is and send it in to them. At least with the hospital and the attending who dared to countdown, something might get changed in how they work with patients and families.
I’m sorry you had to deal with such horrible people at a time when that was the last thing you needed.
To other people who have to put up with jerk doctors or nurses, please remember, they don’t know everything. You can take your business elsewhere! I’ve done it myself in the past and have always found a better doctor who treats me and my son like a human being instead of an annoyance.
I loved your post…sadly it is true that it is so hard to find good doctors that also act human. I too had a very difficult pregnancy and “medical professionals” would remind me about how bad it was like I didn’t realize it. I understand that they needed to tell me the bad stuff that could happen but it was always focused on the bad stuff and never on the positive. I definitely would love to see this post in a paper or somewhere medical professionals could see it!
.-= Barb´s last blog ..Enjoying June =-.
I worked for a hospital through college and sadly saw many doctors like the ones you speak of. I am so sorry that you were not treated with the compassion that you should have been. I read your blog daily and my heart breaks for you and Mike as you walk this journey of grief. Know that you are in the prayers and thoughts of hundreds of strangers like myself and that Maddie will live on in our hearts and minds.
Lia in Florida says:
I appreciate your post…I am a
senior in nursing school and I have already had too many nasty encounters with doctors talking to me like i’m a dummy. Psh…generally they don’t bother to find out whats going on with the patient themselves. grr
I pray for you daily…and I am sorry you know all of these extremely true facts about many (but not all) doctors because of your experiences with your baby.
Yes and yes. I hate bad run in’s it brings the stress up in a hundred fold.
My doctor, who is like a saint has me call right to him so I don’t have to deal with any other Dr. ever.
Can you imagine having a Dr. who listens it is amazing. Okay so he’s cute too-which makes it easier to listen
.-= Susan´s last blog ..All Things Grow… =-.
I never understood why people who don’t like people (or who don’t know how to relate to people in a sensitive/loving manner) would go in to a profession like becoming a doctor. So puzzling?
But, I hope every doctor from here on out is amazing. You deserve the best of the best!
I am absolutely horrified to hear that an attending physician would treat you in that manner during the final moments of your daughter’s precious life. He needs to be reported. Imagine all those little resident doctors he is supposed to be “teaching”. God help us if any of them are stupid enough to follow his example.
I am sorry from the bottom of my heart.
.-= Lora´s last blog ..Because, you know, I had nothing better to do. =-.
AMEN!!!!!!! My cousin is a pediatric ER doctor at Chicago memorial. I told her to read my blog so she won’t turn into a dr with a God Complex, that drives me nuts! I got so angry with an Ob that I explained to him in a nice manner that I hired him, and I was no firing him! I then walked out, and found an incredible new ob.
.-= Jenn´s last blog ..Baby Einstein =-.
God this is so so true. You have by far had more experiences with doctors than me, but I have had a lot of trouble in the past with my bladder and kidneys and they acted up again when I was pregnant. I had so many bad run-ins with doctors. Bedside manner is so awful in some of the people in the medical field. Nurses ARE awesome, but I did have to “fire” one after my c-section. But to her credit, I’m probably not a very good patient.
.-= Brittni´s last blog ..sometimes you just need a chocolate fix…even when your two =-.
Hairy Farmer Family says:
Heather, I’m so truly sorry to hear how you were let down by Maddie’s doctor. Not every doctor has a vocation – as you say, their talent as scientists and physicians may be immense, but their interaction with patients and family can be clinical and cold. Their professional exterior – is all that there is of them. It sounds as if you had the worst possible example of a doctor who went into medicine without an understanding of his first duty: to care. I’m so, so sorry that the most traumatic experience a mother can ever undergo was even more damaging because of his manner and attitude.
I do urge you to ensure he is made aware of how he has enlarged your hurt. Sadly, I’m sure there will be other patients that he and his team cannot save – there may be other parents whose wounds he deepens in this appalling way.
The majority of the doctors who looked after my son in NICU and Special Care were all pleasant. Smilers, not scientists. People, not pen-pushers. The nurses, on the other hand, were either angels in human disguise – or harpies! I honestly could not puzzle out why this small handful of them had ever entered a caring profession when they were so patently deficient in the milk of human kindness, and I will never forget their coldness towards me. Like you, I wondered how they would treat their own relatives.
Heather, I feel that your other supporters, who read you prior to Maddie’s passing, know you very well and always say what I would like to say – better. But I am reading, and I am so very moved, and I desperately wish there was something I could say to you and Mike that might alleviate your unimaginable pain, help shape your grief, or bring you one night of peaceful Maddie-filled dreams. My son does not often want for kisses, but whenever I think about Maddie I give him a extra one, especially for her.
.-= Hairy Farmer Family´s last blog ..Viscous Giraffe =-.
cindy w says:
I love this. I have a cousin who is a complete douchebag, and when I learned he was going to be a doctor, I was horrified. He’s a brilliantly smart guy with absolutely zero tact or social skills. I’m trying to think of how I can anonymously send him this post.
Love you, lady. Big hugs.
.-= cindy w´s last blog ..Under Contract =-.
I could not even imagine listening to someone countdown how many more minutes they were going to keep trying. That is awful.
.-= Cathy´s last blog ..Get Off My Arm! =-.
Heather, I read your post earlier this morning and have been thinking about that countdown doctor for the last couple of hours. I would be beyond enraged at such callousness.
Even if there possibly were any “logical” reasons for the medical decisions the attending MD was making, he is still above all a human being. His behavior and interaction with his patients was a major failure – and as a clinician (not a researcher in a lab), his job requires work with people.
Sorry if my rambling is not helpful. You are a wonderful writer and such a great mom. If/when you are ready, I would send a letter to a specific person who oversees the PICU.
I hope that you always know how much you and Maddie (even now) are helping others. Wishing you many happy days ahead…
I completely agree, my mom has some chronic illnesses and doctors just look at her like she is a drug addict when she meets with them the first time! Horrible! God Bless!
Courtney in New York!
.-= Courtney´s last blog ..You only WISH you could be me right now =-.
Wow! You said it. On another front, thanks for the comments about your 50mm lens. I got one right after I heard from you and it is my very, very favorite. Are you still working on Project 365? Your previous photos are really good.
It makes me want to find that doctor and give him a peice of my mind. What a jurk!!!!!!!! I hope he reads this (and if he does you do not desurve to have your job).
Oh, goodness. I try not to say “I’m sorry” too much but that bit about that bastard doctor yelling out the time had me in tears. I’m so sorry you got stuck with him. He has no business dealing with patients–perhaps he should go work for an insurance company.
I think I’ll never be able to erase that countdown image from my mind.
Right now I feel physically ill that you and Mike had to go through that during Maddie’s last moments. Seriously. Ill.
Much, much love to you both.
Brandi Rollins says:
I just wanted you to know how your blog touches so many of us. I am in tears nearly every time I read it, the pain you feel, the pain I can relate to. We lost our son after he only lived one day, born prematurely at 26 weeks. The time you had with Maddie is absolutely priceless, the one day we had with our son Wyatt is as well. I hope you are getting stronger, cherishing all the memories, the photos you have of her. You are amazing to be sharing your story with all of us, it truly helps many of us who have experienced the same loss, thank you.
I just have to say AMEN to this. Its all so true. Im so sorry for the horrible things those drs said to you, its so aweful that some patients are treated like a numher rather than a human. Being familiar with difficult pg’s (ive had 7…and I have no children) ive had a fair share of drs also and people shouldnt ever have to walk out of a drs office in tears because of the way they were treated. Drs like that should be fired. Shame on them. HUGS to you and your family.
My friend Becki wrote a book on this very subject…she gives lectures to medical students in hopes of making the medical profession more understanding and compassionate.
I sent the link to this post over to her..and here is a link to her website…
Oh, God. My heart aches so terribly for you and Mike. Those last moments with Maddie should not have been worsened by a rude jerk with no bedside manner or ethics.
Unfortunately, it’s too late for someone like that to be taught about compassion.
I can’t imagine the added heartache he has put on you and MIke and your family.
Some doctors have compassion and some don’t. It’s sad really, that they are taught the mechanics and science of the body and not taught about the importance to care for their patients emotionally as well.
Just Jiff says:
I could not agree with you more. Many doctors have terrible bedside manners and forget that patients and parents are PEOPLE with FEELINGS. This is something I often jump on a soapbox about — and I work in healthcare! And more specificially, I work for Pediatric Emergency Medicine attendings! Thank GOODNESS my doctors have compassion and all of them love kids and are PEOPLE too. Many of them have kids. And they all have to listen to me talk about Bayley constantly.
When I read the “we’re only doing this for 10 more minutes” I lost my cool. I started yelling at my computer. I’m so mad this happened to you. I think you are such an incredible mom, woman, and wife. And Maddie is blessed to have you as her mother. (I don’t use past tense because you are STILL her mother… and she is still very much alive in so many people’s hearts. And I honestly believe she is watching over you.)
Anyway, I’m so worked up thinking about all this, so I’ll just end with *HUGS*
.-= Just Jiff´s last blog ..Weekend Photos. =-.
I can’t even get started with the bullshit of my father’d docs. He was in the ICU in a teaching hospital. And don’t get me started on why they did surgery on my husband when they knew he was going to die. They wanted to because they wanted to advance their knowledge on my husbands rare form of cancer. They wanted to use him because he was only 37 and fit as they come. So I can’t even go to the last two death scenarios….
.-= Deidre´s last blog ..Home Funerals =-.
Wow . . . All of those things were unprofessional, sad, and infuriating. I was in the process of earning my MD when our preemie was born. Our experience communicating with NICU staff was pretty much on par with all the things you mentioned, and they were coming from my own classmates and future colleagues.
I wish I knew what could be done to improve the situation. After I graduated, I took time off to care for our daughter. I spent some time working with the ethics department at my med school on a project to educate residents and fellows on the intensive care experience from the parent’s/caregiver’s perspective. When my mentor approached the head of the NICU, we were told in no uncertain terms that doctors were not interested in learning anything from parents because it would make them feel defensive.
That statement made me sick. Needless to say, I never actually went on to practice medicine.
I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve enjoyed getting to know your beautiful Maddie through your posts.
.-= Kristie´s last blog ..Do ADHD Drugs up Risk for Cardiac Deaths in Kids? =-.
I’ve read your blog for months and only lurked. Until today.
I just had to comment on the doctor calling out the minutes while they were trying to save your little girl. What a horrible, horrible thing to do. And I’m really truly sorry that you had to experience it.
I hope someone sends him this anonymously. He should know exactly how horrified all your readers are over his behavior.
Thank you for posting this. When I was 22 weeks pregnant with our daughter, our OB told us we were being naive and didn’t understand that she wouldn’t live. She was upset with us for continuing on with the pregnancy. She’s now four.
I do think there are so many wonderful doctors, but the bad ones give the good ones a bad name. I am trying to decide which is better – a technically excellent doctor, or one with great bedside manner. I guess I’d rather have the greant one with crappy bedside manner.
However, we have been in specialist’s appointments where the very smart doctor told us we were imagining some of her symptoms. And then we’ve also been to appointments where the doctor was nice, but would probably have amputated her leg if we’d asked him to…
Still trying to decide which combo I like best. Her colorectal surgeon is probably the best. He is a wonderful surgeon but also has the personality to beat the band. Probaby why it takes months to get things scheduled with him.
Not many doctors give you their home numbers.
that doctor is just horrible and I hope that one day he will learn just how horrible he has been. One day maybe you’ll feel like going back and telling him just what you think of him. Stories like this make me so angry that there are such people in the world. I believe in karma and know that one day he’ll get his.
.-= Ronda´s last blog ..Two of my baby tomatoes! =-.
Oh Heather – I actually feel sick after reading this, and the tears running down my face are half anger and rage at the way your family was treated on April 7th and half sorrow that you and Mike had to endure THAT on top of the unbearable loss of your baby, your daughter, the love of your lives. I don’t give a damn how busy the hospital was that night, no one should have to hear what you and Mike heard in Maddie’s last moments. I hope you do, as others have suggested, write to EVERYONE involved with the hospital and the medical board about this – just print this post – because that doctor should be punished for the way he spoke and acted. No, it won’t change the outcome, but he should NOT be allowed near another patient or family until he is properly reprimanded for this treatment.
Sorry for the length of this comment, I am just so absolutely horrified by this.
I believe that you are doing an amazing job carrying Maddie’s legacy on with your blog. You are changing people for the good everyday with your words and with your Maddie memories, the beautiful ones (most of them) or the hideous ones like these, they all are influencing people.
I think of you and your family and your wonderful Maddie everyday, and wish you moments of peace.
~ Michele in Staten Island, NY
Scary Mommy says:
I want to stab that fucking attending’s ass. What a prick.
Every single doctor should read this– thank you for writing it.
.-= Scary Mommy´s last blog ..Brotherly Love =-.
Said so well. I have had my runs in with the pretty awful ones too.
When I was pregnant with my son, I started having some bleeding. The nurse did a swab and said “well, it could either be discharge or your baby”. Gasp. There are a lot of insensitive folks in the medical field.
You should report your experience to the Director of the hospital along with the AMA. Some Docs have the “GOD” complex & could stand to be reminded where their feet are planted.
I so agree.
That doctor’s behavior the night Maddie passed is appalling and disgusting. How horrible to be exposed to such an a-hole at such a devastating moment. I just can’t believe there are doctors like that…
.-= s.i.´s last blog ..In the Name of Fame =-.
Heather, My heart hurts for you. I only started reading your blog after learning of Maddie’s passing from Matt’s blog. I know you are still hurting as much today as you were the day Maddie became an angel. I wish I had the magic wand that could heal you but I know the only thing I could do with that magic wand to heal you is to make Maddie come back. As I said, my heart hurts for you and i think about you every day.
Mary @ Holy Mackerel says:
I totally agree with every single point.
I remember when the surgeon came into the waiting room, a huge grin on his face. And he was happy because he had finally found out what was wrong with our baby. “He has cancer!” he stated with glee. No, I’m not exaggerating.
There are so many doctors who need to learn manners, and respect, and to understand that they are only human.
.-= Mary @ Holy Mackerel´s last blog ..Llamas and Alpacas, Oh My! =-.
So well said!
Lindsay from Florida says:
Simply echoing what everyone else has written. I’ll honestly buy a ticket to fly across the country and tear into this so-called “doctor” if you want me to. Even though I’m sure there was some sort of medical rationale for the “10 minutes,” how outrageous and cruel to literally do a countdown during that time. As though it were some sort of race or game and not the most beautiful and valuable person in two parents’ lives.
I’ve come back to this post so many times today because I’m just dumbfounded by it. My best friend is going to be a doctor in a few years. She’ll be one of the great ones, I know that. But I’ll ask her if there’s any way to work this into one of her med school classes (if you wouldn’t mind).
Glares and rage being sent to Dr. Profound Jacka$$. Prayers and hugs being sent to you and Mike.
Amen. I think all doctors should read this missive and take it to heart.
How awful Maddie’s life was ‘counted down’ by this heartless bastard. Wonder if he would have done the same had it been his daughter or grandaughter. I think NOT. Completely heartless and cruel if you ask me.
Great post. I think we should all print it and send to our local Doctors, good and bad.
Never were truer words written! You are so right! They really should have you come speak to Doctors at their continuing ed courses!
.-= Patty´s last blog ..Sunny days! =-.
Heather, I read this post last night, and had to walk away from my computer I was so SO angry.
All I can say is, that doctor is very, very lucky that I live so far away.
.-= eden´s last blog ..27 Versions of the Truth =-.
I’m so sorry you’ve had to endure some of the treatment you have.
I’d add that doctors who do say, “I don’t know,” as opposed to, “I’m looking into it,” should follow that up with, “but I can refer you to a specialist who knows more about this than I do.” I’ve had to learn (as I’m sure you have) to do a fair amount of self-referral, unfortunately.
Wow you have had to deal with way too many douche bags.
.-= Shirley´s last blog ..Life Knows Just When to Get in the Way =-.
Damn. Just damn.
That man apparently doesn’t understand the term empathy.
Bastard. Cold. Cruel. Bastard.
I am so sorry Heather. So very sorry.
.-= preTzel´s last blog ..Day 27: Pickles Turned Out Better (aka You Don’t Gag As Much) =-.
Tom Smart says:
Well written, as usual.
“People don’t care how much you know, they care how much you care.” -Anonymous
Know that you & MIke are alwatys in our thoughts– Much love, Tom & Suzan
Report that effer. Seriously. He is not a Dr, he is an effin lunatic. Wow.
I am so very sorry for your loss of sweet Maddie. Her beauty and spirit takes my breath away–what a special little girl, and so lucky to have you and Mike as her parents.
I am also saddened by the way you were treated in the ICU. I am a former NICU and PICU nurse and a pediatric nurse practitioner. Believe me, I chose this path so that I could combine medicine and compassion, and I have met a wide variety of personalities in the hospital. Anyone who goes into pediatrics should have a long lesson on bedside manner. I am so sorry that your final moments with Maddie were shared with such a person. I know that you deserved to be covering her with kisses for as long as you wanted.
I don’t have children, yet, but you have truly inspired me as the mother that you are to Maddie. My heart breaks for your loss, and you and Mike will be in my thoughts and prayers. I know Maddie and God have wonderful plans for you.
Although I have never experienced the amount of medical history you have, I CAN say that I gave birth to 4 children, and each time I stayed in the hospital, I had a different experience with nurses. Some good, some wonderful, and some down right disapointing. I have always thought that the medical field was a place that SHOULD be for healing, mentally and physically. I can attest to the fact that it makes all the difference in the world to have a nurse or doctor who treats you like you are their only patient. This is why I decided to go into medicine, and I am currently going (back) to school as a 34 year-old-woman because I want to make a difference in someones life and make their burdens just a little bit lighter, even when it seems impossible.
This post should be a required read before ever entering medical school. So true.
I wanted to say, my Maddie rose bush is just beautiful. The purple roses don’t last long, but the are beautiful in bloom. I had someone stop and ask me what it was called and I said Maddie Moo Rose. She came back a few days later and said she could not find a single thing on that type of rose….I felt like a mad woman at that very moment. I had to explain….she got in her car quick like and left……
Thought this might bring a smile!
.-= Coloradolady´s last blog ..VINTAGE THINGIES THURSDAY: Vintage Ironstone and More =-.
Excellent beyond words, Heather.
First of all, this needs to be in all Medical Training Textbooks.
Secondly, Would you ever file a complaint? This treament of “only 10 more minutes” is out of this world. Absolutely unbelievable..I do think you should think about a formal hearing, at least. Someone needs to hear this story at the hospital where Maddie was.
Ten more minutes? And he did a countdown? I’m ill just reading that. It’s unfathomable. That is your BABY, your sweet baby. Ugh, I’m crying for you guys.
I am so glad someone…YOU…spoke up about this. SO. TRUE.
Bravo! I won’t bore you with the idiot dr stories that I have but suffice to say I have also had some amazing experiences of being well cared for clinically & emotionally through the death of my infant son so like you I know it’s possible to be a good doctor and NOT a douche bag.
thinking of you every day Heather. xx
.-= Rebecca´s last blog ..expecting the worst =-.
I’m saddened, incensed and outraged that Maddie’s last 10 minutes were a countdown. What kind of doctor (no wait, make that human being) would have the moral ineptitude to do something like that?!?!?! It’s incomprehensible. Douchebag fits. That or colostomy bag… yeah, that’s even better.
.-= Karen´s last blog ..Baby Steps =-.
Jeebus, this is horrible. On our Maddy’s next-to-last-night when she almost expired, our experience could not have been more different: the attending physician asked us how much/long he should work on her, and we gave a kinda half-assed answer. We asked if that was what he looking for, he said “perfect. I understand completely.” and went and did his job. When it was time to let her go, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, attending included.
Children’s here has some “patient-doctor communication guidelines” type flyers posted everywhere, which I often thought were bullshit PR, but my god do they follow them. Honesty, clarity, sympathy. It sounds like your place could do with the same. I’d write a letter if you’re up to it, because this should be reported and rectified. I’m really so sorry.
.-= tash´s last blog ..Lightning =-.
I hope you wrote/write a letter to the hospital telling your experience w/ the attending when Maddie passed away. I’m quite sure they would love to hear how awful he was. A letter to a hospital administrator means a lot – both praise and criticism and he should be reprimanded for that attitude. My mother works for a hospital (a nurse) and the few letters they get go a long way in determining things. That is a completely awful.
Oh Heather…. I don’t even know what to say about this doctor you and Mike had to deal with. I am so sorry! I have been trying to keep up to date with your blog here in Brazil and just now I read this entry. I am absolutely appalled. It’s sad to know that there are doctors out there who trully don’t care enough.
wow. really really well put. after my first miscarriage, the doc said to me ‘so what kind of birth control are we going to put you on so THIS doesn’t happen again?’. stupid b-tch, i was married, trying and DEVASTATED to have lost the baby. (not that it should have mattered). needless to say, i never saw her again.
.-= MommyNamedApril´s last blog ..It’s Hump Week. =-.
I could not agree with you more. I had a surgeon when I was a 15 year old, terrified, hysterical girl who had been in EXTREME pain for the past two months due to an infection from an operation he did cause some pretty bad emotional issues. I would not let them give me an IV (again, hysterical and I have tiny veins) and he told the other doctor “She’s just a minor. Put it in. She doesn’t get a say.”
Needless to say, I developed some pretty huge control issues after that.
Amen, sister…AMEN. In our NICU experience so far, we’ve only encountered one bona fide asshole who was wildly inappropriate. Compassion is SUCH an important part of the job of anyone working with sick children and their families. I just had a terribly difficult conversation with my son’s current neonatologist but she was extremely compassionate and caring throughout which helped so much.
.-= Danny´s last blog ..Larchmont =-.
MG @ MommyGeekology says:
That is so horrible, and unfeeling, and cold, and unthinkable.
No matter how hard their job is… the actions of the attending that night were inexcusable. I am so sorry for that.
.-= MG @ MommyGeekology´s last blog ..Brutally Honest. =-.
Seriously, you should take this to Congress as a REAL patients bill of rights!
Please publish the name and address of this doctor so I (and hopefully others) can write to him and tell him how offended we are. There is NO excuse for that behavior! Period.
I will never look at doctors the same way after the last two year. I also dealt with some truly wonderful and incredibly awful ones. I had a doctor give me an internal exam while i was 7 mos PG with triplets while holding a cup of coffee in his other hand. We had a doctor start to cry when she was telling us about our son, ending up with me having to comfort her. I see now they truly are just people, and so fallible and honestly, don’t really know alot of the time what to do. So sorry for your bad experiences.
To add to this, doctors also need to know when to put their medical knowledge on pause for a second and believe in a mothers intuition.
Both my sons had RSV as infants, both were born a few weeks early but given they weighed around 7-8 lbs, people, ESPECIALLY doctors overlooked that my babies were technically preemies.
Both times my sons had RSV I was begging them to be put into the hospital. Both times I was told that I was overreacting. That the hospital could be more dangerous than being at home.
Both sets of doctors were wrong and both my babies spent a week in the hospital in respiratory distress.
Tate was only 4 weeks old when his happened, he could have easily died. His sats were so bad the night my husband siad F*** them we are taking him to the ER without the dr’s consent.
What was so exhausting was I knew in my mind all along that my babies were really sick and the doc’s kept saying, Its croup, or its refulx, or its a cold……
Doctors can make bad situations worse.
The interns have less tact I feel because many of them aren’t parents yet.
This is a very good blog entry. They always are but this is something someone needs to print off and put on the wall in the doctors break room!
I firmly believe that everything we do — no matter what aspect of our lives — should be to make the world a better place. Even the small things, like saying hi to your co-worker when they arrive to the office, like smiling at passers-by.
This doctor was heartless. Going through the motions rather than inspiring others (as doctors so easily can). I’m so sorry you had to see/hear him talk like that about beautiful Maddie.
.-= Haley-O´s last blog ..Bedhead, WAHM’ing & Monkey’s First Crush…. =-.
I am shocked to read about the count down. Shocked but not surprised.
I have experienced horrible horrible things from doctors blaming me for my son’s death, to others tellign me I should have known better because I was a nurse.
The worst thing was when a doctor who was also my friend and at the birth of my son told me his first thoughts were not of us and my baby but how much of a liability we were going to be.
Now we have a sick daughter and there has been more crap.
From doctors telling me I was doing this to her right down to suggestions I sell her on eba and to pro create so that our family could be studied.
Smart arsed idiots.
Most docs are nice but some are, as you said; douchebags.
.-= tiff´s last blog ..Poker Pumpkin Popcorn Face. =-.
I didn’t find your blog until you had already lost your precious angel. I have to brace myself every time I read, because your words evoke such emotion, particularly as I am a mommy of 2 daughters. This post made me cry, yes, but I am livid and shaking my head in disbelief. That cold, heartless man was not a doctor. He didn’t give a **** about saving lives, and certainly not Maddie’s. A countdown? In the name of God, a countdown? I would be appalled to know that a doctor did that for a 80 year old patient with relatives nearby, but a for a child? This man should not be practicing medicine, and certainly nowhere near children. I think you should share your experience with the hospital management and possibly with the AMA. Your last point was completely accurate–how will he feel when it is someone he loves needing help?
Lisa (Jonnysmommy) says:
Are you kidding me?!
I can’t say I am surprised really….my aunt told me that when my other aunt was sick and in the hospital the doctor stood over her bed and told her husband “I don’t think she’s going to make it,” while she struggled for breath and shook her head. It’s like they didn’t even try. And he was right, she didn’t make it. but maybe she would have if he hadn’t been such a douchebag.
.-= Lisa (Jonnysmommy)´s last blog ..Memories come full circle =-.
Emily Aloha says:
I’m so sorry that there are heartless bastards in the world, and even more sorry that you seem to run into them constantly.
Here’s hoping your H.B. radar doesn’t pick up any more idiots.
Miss Tachae says:
You know, I want to find that man and have a real long talk with him for saying “only do this” like its a menial everyday thing.
What a good post. You see what everyone needs their doctor/nurses to be.
Debi Powell says:
Heather.. I loved this post… for several reasons! I am a nurse, and I am thankful you had nurses who loved Maddie! Of course, that was an easy job after “meeting her” on your web site. She was unbelieveable loveable!
The other reason I love this post is seeing how you’ve arrived at one of the stages of grieving! Anger. Its a biggie! Live in anger, write about your anger.. and move out of anger only when you’re ready to. The on to the next “phase”. You will of course, go back and forth the remainder of your life… denial/anger/ depression/etc… and there is no real “order” then. But now, there is some sort of ‘proven’ order, and you’re walking in the direction that could give you some freedom from the pain.
I think you’re an absolutely amazing woman, mother…. and you had the most precious child ever! I admire you so much… hang in there girl and continue to walk thru those phases… and experience them!!
Hug to you!
I am speechless!!!!!!!!
To count down is the worst aspect. Then to stand back and just watch…………. heartless BAST_RD! sorry, so sorry.
I feel the same way about the medical field. I know they cannot answer all questions, but seriously. When I get better service at McDonalds than at my OB GYN’s, something is wrong!!!
You need your own talk show, I mean that.
Can you come over for lunch?
Up until now I have simply sat on the sidelines since I became acquainted with your blog two months ago. I wish all of these incidents had not happened to you, wish that the doctors that you have encountered never came into your life, unfortunately I am not surprised to see they exist everywhere. My mother was so frustrated with her nephrologish that she asked me to come with her…when telling the doctor how things were doing on a new drug, he simply told her that wasn’t possible, those symptoms weren’t in the book!!! I was dumbfounded by that response (especially since my mother has a medical background and knows her body). Needless to say that was the last time she went to that doctor. She now drives almost 2 hrs to her new one, but it is worth every minute.
Stay strong, you are a marvelous person.
Seriously Heather please write a letter to the hospital director about that terrible doctor and how he counted down like it was a freaking new years eve party. He needs to be told and hopefully taken down a notch. I’m going to school to be either a nurse or a respiratory therapist and I seriously would have ripped him a new one had he treated someone like that in front of me.
doctors do have a tough job. i have several family members that are doctors. but i KNOW they would never act in any of those ways. how sad. how sad that you had come in contact with so many over the last few years.
thanks for sharing
Yes, and yes again.
I wrote a post touching on this last year: http://www.magpiemusing.com/2008/01/empathy-in-health-care.html
I’ve been following your blog for some time now and never left a comment, but today I feel the need to let you know that I TOTALLY agree with everything you wrote here. My son is 2.5 yrs old and came home from the hospital projectile vomitting, reflux, constipation, you name it. I started taking him to a GI dr when he was 5 months old b/c we couldn’t take him anywhere without him puking his entire bottle all over the place. The Dr called him a happy spitter. Said it was HIS normal to only have a bowel movement 1-2 times a week. And it was also normal for him to gag and refuse solids. I didn’t agree but I let the DR make me feel like a paranoid first time parent. By the time my son was a yr old, he was no longer vomitting but still constipated and was still refusing solids. I was told it was a phase and the Dr kept ignoring my concerns saying that my son just didn’t “look” sick. My son is like Maddie, always happy even when he isn’t feeling well. Well now he is 2.5 and still going through that phase. He only eats sweet potatoe fries and occasionally a hot dog without the bun. We switched Drs and she immediately tested him for celiac disease and it came back positive. So for 2.5 yrs my baby has had this disease and the Drs ignored my concerns. So I will repeat what you said above…
“You need to listen to your patients and their families.”
Oh, man, I’m so sorry you got stuck with someone like that at that awful time. I’m sorry anyone does. I think some doctors take the detachment that gets them by way too far, and it results in absolutely callousness at best.
You need to be human first, and a doctor second. I’m pretty sure they at least touch on that in medical school. Or at least, they mention it in most of those doctor shows on TV.
We should all print this out and pin up copies in hospitals and doctors’ offices around the country, maybe change some people’s lives on both sides of this equation.
I am filled with this powerful urge to strangle that doctor who was calling out the time during your last moments with Maddie. Strangle. I don’t know the story of that night, but that is so wrong, so wrong. I know you probably don’t need others to be angry for you, but I am.
My sister lost her baby son seven years ago, and recently a caring person said something to her on the subject like, you seem to be in a healthy place with Noah’s death. And she said to me that she liked the way that other woman put it. There is no complete healing. There is no “over it.” There’s not even really, an “at peace.” But she can live in a healthy way right along with the pain, the anger, the righteous resentment, the grief. It’s a long process–and a hugely transformative one for me to witness and be a part of.
My doctor had Tourettes and he had great bedside mannerisms.
Bedside manner makes all the difference!
I’m so disturbed by what that jerk said.
Thinking of you all.