The day after Maddie’s birthday, I participated in a symposium at UCLA (the one where I reconnected with The Nurse). UCLA has two hospitals in our area. There is a community hospital where Madeline passed away, located in Santa Monica, and there is the main hospital where Annabel was born, located adjacent to the UCLA campus in Westwood. When we walked out of the Santa Monica hospital on April Seventh, I swore I would never go back.
When I was asked to speak at the symposium, the first question I asked was where it was going to be held. I was told the main hospital, and I breathed a sigh of relief. As much as I wanted to help, I couldn’t go back to Santa Monica. I didn’t want to smell it, walk through the hallways, have any triggers.
On November 12th, we arrived at the hospital and I immediately started running into nurses and doctors from the NICU that wanted to say hello. Everyone rubbed my belly and asked about my pregnancy. We all shared lots of tears over Maddie. And then, I walked into the auditorium and I saw him.
The doctor, the one in charge of the PICU in Santa Monica. Madeline’s attending physician on the day she died.
I wasn’t expecting to see him at the main hospital. It made sense he would be there in theory. I should have been prepared, but I wasn’t. He knew I would be there – my name was on the program, as was Madeline’s.
I felt like I’d been punched.
I went on with greeting old nurse friends, but I could sense him hovering. I knew that he wanted to talk to me. I could feel him staring. I kept myself busy catching up with my friends until it was time for me to talk.
The moderators of the session asked me many questions and it took every fiber of my being to focus and attempt to answer them. I would try to force myself to look at my friends in the audience, but my eyes kept straying to where he sat. I could see his eyes on me, watching, listening to me talk about how it felt to watch my daughter die and all I wanted to do was stand up and point and scream “IT’S YOUR FAULT! IT’S YOUR FAULT MY BABY IS DEAD! YOU DIDN’T SAVE HER!” I was overcome with real, pure hatred. The entire session is a blur. I have no idea what they asked me, or what I said. I don’t know if I made sense.
After my portion was over, I was shaking. I don’t know if anyone noticed. I handed out more hugs, exchanged contact information with my special nurse, and spoke a bit more with one of Madeline’s NICU nurses. Again, I could feel his eyes on me. I purposely kept my back turned to him. I didn’t want to talk to him, hear his voice, get within arm’s reach of him because I knew I would physically hurt him. He seemed to get the hint, and stayed away.
I found out later through my mom and Mike (who had attended with me) that the leader of the session knew that doctor would be there, but she didn’t want to tell me in advance for fear I would get upset. She told Mike and my mom that he was shaken by Madeline’s case. Good. I hope he wakes up every night and is haunted by my screams from when he pronounced her dead. After the horrible way he treated us during her final minutes, he deserves that.
I wish I could say that, seven months since I last saw him, I am at peace with this, but I’m not. I don’t care if he did everything he could. I don’t care if he is a lovely man outside of the hospital (although from his behavior in there, I would have a hard time believing it). Madeline is gone, and it was HIS JOB to save her. I can’t talk to him. And I certainly wasn’t going to give him the opportunity to clear his conscience when he could have the night she died. He failed at his job, and even if intellectually I know that it might not have been his fault, I don’t care. He lost a patient – I lost a daughter, and SHE lost her LIFE.
I want to be the better person, but I can’t. It’s ugly and messy. I hate him.
I can’t forgive him.
edited to add:
I want to clear up a few things: first, the session that I spoke at that day was all abut Madeline, and the care she received during her final hospital stay. So, I was able to air all my problems with the way things were handled. And since he was in there, he knows. Second, I know that everyone in the room that day did everything they could to save Maddie. I don’t doubt that one bit. There are a LOT of things that happened in the room that I still can’t talk about, but someday I will be ready. Third, I definitely don’t give this man much thought. I was messed up for a few days after I saw him, I but I talked about it to my therapists. Yesterday, he popped into my mind, and I needed to write to get him out. So please don’t think that my feelings about him eat away at me – I love my daughters too much to focus on him. And fourth, I really do hope this made him a better doctor. I know he is one of the best – he’s the head of the PICU at one of the best medical schools on the west coast. But his bedside manner is hideous, and that is beyond important when you work with frightened children and parents. And I know he’s human, and that is why I want to be the better person. However, he could be the best doctor in the world now, but it doesn’t change what we went through. It is a learning experience that I wish he’d had BEFORE he was my Madeline’s doctor.
Annie Y says:
I can’t even fathom what that must have been like for you and I am sorry you had to deal with the magnitude of his presence. You are truly a remarkable and strong woman because I would not have been able to contain myself.
In Due Time says:
I don’t have the words, I just want to hug you. ((((((Heather))))))))
Totally understandable, mama. ABSOLUTELY OK, especially having re-read his actions/attitude that night.
agree! don’t feel like you need to explain yourself.
like you can’t forgive him? i can’t forgive myself. I was the one that should have been able to save my child. I’m the mother – the giver of life that should have been able to do what doctors couldn’t do.
because I’m a superhero? no. because I’m the only one who loved him like no other. no other at all.
Oh don’t even get me started on that road.
Lots of love to you S.
Breaking my heart…sending peace and love to you and Heather…
My heart truly aches for the both of you
Aunt Becky says:
Oh girl, we all forgive you. Please. PLEASE, this comment is breaking my heart and making Your Aunt Becky cry.
Sending you a big hug and an even bigger bottle of Valium.
If love were enough, Thalon and Madeline would be pouring juice all over your computer keyboards while crapping something smelly right now. And laughing the whole damn time. xoxoxo
S, Though our circumstances are different – I get that. I couldn’t save her. But If I can’t, how can i expect anyone else to?
Sometimes, I hate myself for that.
Heather – Don’t apologise, Don’t explain. Miss, Grieve and love. We can’t all know, but we empathyse. x
I can’t imagine what that must have felt like and I’m so so sorry that you have to live with this whole situation, with him.
Grief is not rational, and you are completely and utterly justified in the way you feel babe.
You are absolutely, unequivocally RIGHT. He SHOULD have saved your daughter, but he didn’t. So you can hate his guts all you want. I’ll hate him right along with you.
I’m here to listen and hug, whenever you need it. I love you.
That’s okay. I don’t think you need to forgive him. He couldn’t save Madeline and I’m sure he did everything he could, but if you need to have that anger to focus on, to help you get through the day, you absolutely do not need to apologise for that.
Frankly, reading about how he acted the night your baby passed makes me sick, furious, devastated. To know that the way I feel is merely one-billionth of how you and Mike feel is so humbling. You don’t *need* to do anything but love your Annabel and honour your Madeline. Everything else can wait. Forever, if needs be.
With love x
Hugs to you. I cannot imagine walking back into Stanford, much less facing the doctor there. Cannot fathom. Huge hugs to you for having his image twice burned into your memory.
Oh mama. It’s SO ok to feel that way.
Marti from Michigan says:
Oh Heather/Mike, if there was some magical way to bring Maddie back to you two, I would do everything I could to do it. I am so sorry, so very, very sorry.
I type reports for doctors as my job, and find myself yelling at the computer sometimes. Like it can hear me, but it helps me get my frustrations out if I hear something I don’t like – especially in the field of saving lives. I have no idea what they are doing because I can’t see them, I can only hear the doctor describing whatever they did.
You have every right to hate this doctor.
((((HUGS)))) from Michigan!
All I can say Is OMG I went back and reread what had happened, I am completely amazed of the way some people act as if they are Gods and are expected to be treated as such, You handled the situation with class, and took the high road, me on the other hand would have taken the low road and hocked a loogie
Its the foul side of being a doctor (especially an ICU doctor (ESPECIALLY a NICU doctor)) that the decisions you make very often have a less then 50/50 chance of saving someone. Especially in a critical rescue, procedures that are pretty much lose lose have to be decided in seconds. I was not able to cope…I completed my residency but had to retrain as a teacher because i found that the pressure to save lives was not something I could do. Even in the relatively tame gastroenterology specialty, I absolutely did not have what it took to handle the life and death decisions. In my current job if i mess up, i might have to deal with an aggravated supervisor or student, but it rolls off my back pretty much immediately. In my former life, if i messed up it usually meant i took the life of a daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, friend. Couldn’t live with it.
My dear best friend from medical school is convalescing from a complete mental breakdown following an emergency rescue where all 3 victims of a car crash perished. She was 10 times the doctor i was, and 100 times as tough. And she has cracked, i fear beyond repair.
I guess what i am saying is that i feel your pain visceraly, and i understand your anger and your hurt. But I also can’t help but see it from the other side…i wonder what this doctor has dealt with since that horrible day. Doctors make SO many mistakes….as many mistakes as everyone else in their jobs, but the consequences of their mistakes destroy lives.
Be well Heather….
Thank you for this comment. This is my internal struggle, picturing it from the doctor’s side. I could NEVER be a doctor, or a nurse, for that exact reason. I couldn’t have someone’s life in my hands. I want to be able to forgive him…or, be at peace with him, I think that’s a better term. But, I can’t. And I want to say that maybe someday I will…but I don’t know if that’s true.
I am so sorry you are going through this. The saddest day of last year for me was the day I read that Madeline had gone. I know you can’t forgive him now, but I hope one day you feel peace and can let go of the angry feelings… Not for him, but for you.
You have every right to feel the way you do. And I am sorry. From you wrote about the situation that I can remember, his behavior was nowhere near exceptable.
I am SO SORRY! ;o(
You are so…so…fiercely…everything. Everything powerful & beautiful & vulnerable & amazing & human & woman & yeah…my words aren’t any good here…my thoughts struggle to make purchase…I wish I could just give a direct tap to how much I think of you…how much I care…how your whole family is there, in my every day. If I ever make it to nursing school…it’s for Maddie..it’s for you…I WILL devote my life to making sure that I will always be able to meet your eyes…the eyes of all my patients. I hate that man too…I know I can never ever begin to fathom the intensity of that emotion…how deep & burning it goes…to wake up everyday & know that the most important person in your life is gone…and to have to pair that anguish with that bastards face…I’d give anything to take some of that for you…I…I’m rambling…if I’m ever half the woman, person, advocate, mother you are-I will consider myself lucky & proud.
I am fairly sure that if that man had been more compassionate with you at that time you wouldnt feel so much anger.
But he wasnt and it adds to the feelings of loss and pain and injustice.
He might not have been able to save Maddie, but if he had spoken to you better, explained why he felt he couldnt go on for longer, taken time like all the other staff did on that awful day, then he may have made it easier for you.
He probably was upset – from what my husband says it’s never easy dealing with a very sick child – but in hiding his pain at what you were going through he hid his humanity.
It’s humanity when helping families during and following this kind of trauma that make the difference in how families come to terms with what has happened.
I hope he reads this blog. I hope that he reads about how he made you all feel and how WE all feel about that. Maybe then he can learn what he should have done differently. And if he chooses not to read or learn then he isnt a good doctor.
Good doctors heal the body and the soul.
I would like to say ditto here.
ditto to the ditto….great post
Being a mom in your situation was a horrible horrible thing. My heart has ached for you from that very moment…
Being a doctor in that situation is also horrible… they may be very brainy and educated and have good instincts when it comes to the medical part of their job, but they don’t possess powers to do the impossible, and some outcomes are beyond medical help. If you know there was no malpractice, then he probably feels the same horror you do, the loss of Maddie (on his watch!) and your horrendous pain as well. The way to behave, or bedside manner, is yet another thing. In the heat of that moment he is trying to save a life and he wasn’t able to. That must feel horrible even if he did everything “right”, and he apparently lacks the bedside manner to behave appropriately. They have to think clinically first, and then we need them to act emotionally appropriately. Sometimes they aren’t very good at that one thing. I witnessed that kind of thing when my daughter was in a car accident and one of the residents had not much hope for her recovery. Thank God he was wrong, but his tears of joy when she walked through his doors a year later were evidence that he was not a cold hard person. I would venture to guess your hated Dr. had tears of sorrow for Maddie too. They are in a weird situation and not all of them are emotionally equiped, but if he was MEDICALLY equiped in your case, that’s what you needed most. Not fair that it didn’t help Maddie, not fair at all.
I’m sorry for the rambling. I’d let go of the hate, it only eats you, you pay the price for it.
I like what you have written Karen- very true.
That last line above – Good Doctors heal the body and the soul – I like that. I would add that they heal the soul ESPECIALLY when they cannot heal the body. I’m glad you have a reader-friend who was able to articulate the painful razor’s edge it is to be any kind of physician, but still… as someone who is currently living with my bestie, Dr. Martin (yes, Doc Martin) and as someone trained in the critical care of babies, I feel strongly that this man failed you entirely. He failed Madeline, even if he did do “everything medically possible” (which is the most bullshit sentence in the history of the world) to save her life. Your anger is understandable, Heather. It is forgivable. Not one of us here would ever judge you for the feelings you carry or for your feelings that day. His behavior is/was neither understandable nor forgivable. I, too, hope, for your own sake, that you find a way to make peace with him, or the idea of him, some day, if you can, but if you can’t, you’re still someone we cherish, Mike and Annie are people we adore, and the world keeps spinning around, some days, I am SURE OF IT, on the power of Maddie’s love alone. Take heart.
Lynn from For Love or Funny says:
Ditto to so many of the above comments; I couldn’t say it better. Thinking of you…
I wish whole heartedly that no parent ever had to lose a child. I am so sorry that your loss was compounded by a lack of compassion in one of your greatest moments of need.
I don’t know if the organizer of the symposium is a friend of yours or not. I tend to think not. I think it was clearly wrong of her to know beforehand that she expected this doctor to attend and not share this information with you. The fact that she didn’t tell you for fear that you wouldn’t attend speaks volumes about her choices.
I don’t think you have to forgive him. There is a saying that “you can’t unring the bell”. Whether or not he made every right medical choice the doctor didn’t handle Maddie’s whole case as well as he could have. There are some things in life where you only get one chance to do it right and he missed the chance with Maddie’s life and the subsequent treatment of her parents. I am so, so sorry for your loss and the fact that you were made to suffer so much more with his treatment.
That sucks so, so badly that you had to see him. I am so sorry.
Oh Heather …. I don’t even have words … I’m SO SO sorry … this post makes SO much sense and it’s so ok to feel this way. This one made me cry … I feel the same way about one of Robert’s nurses … not in the same sense of course … some dr’s/nurses have the affect where you just despise them and this one criticized me for complaining and advocating and wanting to know what was going on with him. It’s a horrible comparison I know .. but I get it …. and this sucks so bad for you and Mike. Love love love and prayers for you guys !
I have no brilliant insight, but do want to offer you all my hugs.
The thought that you had to experience this still brings me to tears and sobs every time I think about it. I am so sorry.
You have every right to hate him. Knowing myself I fear I would have physically attacked him upon sight, so I do admire your strength and ability to remain collected.
Sarah P says:
It’s OK to be angry because it – the whole situation, Maddie being gone – it’s not OK. It isn’t fair.
Your anger is really understandable. I do think though that it would be good if at some point you can talk to this doctor and work it through for him so he can learn something from Maddie’s death. He obviously knows he didn’t behave the way he should have. I also suspect that he probably really wishes he had done things differently. Maddie’s case could be a turning point for him. It may take you a very long time to get to the point that you could talk to him, but if you could get to that point I think there could be something good that you could look back on instead of all that is horrible now.
Very well put, Jill…that is exactly what I was thinking as hatred can be so toxic but is certainly understandable.
I think you can attain forgiveness without having to talk to the other person. Forgiveness is really about letting it go for your sake; I don’t see why the other party would need to be involved.
I think the fact that he was hovering around Heather during the symposium is telling; he knows he messed up, he knows he was less than he should have been that night.
And, if he didn’t know BEFORE her talk, he surely knew AFTER. He’s got all the information he needs in order to improve himself.
I don’t think any further communication with this man will yield anything helpful. Letting go of the pain and anger, yes; talking to him, no.
Lisa Marie says:
Its weird because I started reading this thinking the story was going to change and that you were going to say that you spoke to him. And when I saw that you didn’t, I was glad you stood your ground. I can’t possibly imagine what you’ve been through since that day… but to speak to him would mean that you put aside your pain to appease him, and that’s not ok. You ARE the better person. There is nothing ugly about what you did. You were a mature woman taking the high road. And I admire that…
hugs mama. Im sorry
Anna Marie says:
Whatever he puts himself through, whatever he is feeling about Maddie is so small in comparison to what he did- the way he acted-it makes me a little sick to my stomach. While I understand doctors need to maintain emotional distance so they can make the best decisions, I wonder why compassion and empathy have to be sacrificed.
Hugs to you and Mike.
I’m so sorry, Heather. I’m so sorry. If I feel like I want to throw up after reading that (and I’ve never met you or Maddie), then I can only imagine what you feel like.
Lots of Hugs. And then lots more.
My mother lost a baby before me and after my older brother. It was a boy and a stillborn. She cannot have kids naturally so my brother basically suffocated in my mother’s womb. The stories of how my parents took this horrible lost breaks my heart each and every time. My brother would have been about 35 years old now and I know he is never far from my mother’s thoughts, especially her heart. Several years ago, word got out that the doctor who was supposed to deliver him was jailed for numerous things. I guess the universe righted itself or not. Regardless, my mom never really bothered herself with talking about this man. Then again, I never asked. I was more concerned living up to the self-imposed title of Replacement Child. Some weeks ago, my mom told me that I never was that. She wanted me and she had me. Hugs, Heather. Don’t waste your time and energy on someone who will bring you nothing but sadness and anger. Your family needs you and that is where all of you should be. Maddy needs you as well.
Hugging from afar
All I can say is Im sooo sorry!! You have every right to feel the way you do. Maddie is missed so much as I read your blog every day. I cant imagine how you get threw every day with out her. Sending big Hugs to you!!
I don’t know you personally, but from reading this blog I will say this — I think that your hatred is at least in part attributable to the callous way he treated you and Madeline that night. It’s not simply that he failed to save her. No doubt you, as I would, have questions about whether someone who behaved that way really did everything he could. I think that is why you hate him — because of the doubts his behavior left behind.
I want you to be at peace too. I believe you will get there one day.
I don’t think I could forgive him either.
I’m not sure you’re supposed to.
I’m so so sorry. Your raw hatred is okay. More than okay. Sending you big *hugs*
Midwest Mommy says:
A conference in front of others who are listening would not be the time or place to speak to this man for the first time, if that ever happens. I am glad he didn’t push the issue and insist on talking with you in front of others. I am so sorry. I can’t imagine the sharp burning feeling when you first saw him not knowing he would be there and then trying to make it through a panel.
The one thing that I have learned after years of therapy is to honor my feelings but that holding on to anger/resentment and refusing to forgive gives that person the power instead of you.
That said, I still refuse to forgive the person who sexually abused me from ages 4 to 10 no matter how often my counselor reminds me that I’m giving him the power.
Hell, it even took me 8 years of counseling to forgive my parents for not noticing that i was being raped every 3-4 weeks starting at age 6.
So hate that doctor for the rest of your life if you have to — he certainly was enough of a dick-head the night Maddie died to deserve it. And if you never do forgive him, know that you have one person who totally understands.
I think it is perfectly understandable the way you feel. My heart aches terribly & I know yours is a million fold above whatever I could even imagine.
I read you every day & have for a long while, but have only commented a few times. There is not a single time that I don’t wish I had the special power to fix it. ((bighuggs))
I feel the same about the doctor who did my mom’s surgery 15 years ago. She died of a blood clot less than 24 hours post op because sh wasn’t even hooked up to an oxygen monitor on her finger – she went without oxygen for a hour befor anyone noticed.
My brother had surgery at the same hospital only two months after she died. We told staff that the doctor who did mom’s surgery had better stay away unless they wanted a scene.
I think I’d still recognize him after all these years and spit in his face.
I was worried when I first started reading this post that it was going to be him coming up to you and Kumba Yas and warm touching and forgiveness. And I am so glad to see it is not. And I feel bad that I feel this way–but the hate, the fact that you cannot forgive–I can understand that far more.
Sometimes people do things that cannot be forgiven.
Oh, Heather. This post brings tears to my eyes.
There’s so much to say, but words seem inadequate.
I’m just so, so sorry.
I completely understand your feelings. My grandmother was hospitalized for pneumonia in February and died of a hemorrhage. I can never forgive the doctors on duty tonight and just thinking about it – and about Maddie – builds a knot in my chest and stomach.
We all still miss her, so, so much.
XOXO from GA,
*tonight = that night.
Adventures In Babywearing says:
I am so sorry you have to feel this, but understand in a big way.
I have worked through it, through the years, but have a very hard time lending my forgiveness to one certain doctor who LAUGHED at me and told me what I wanted to do for my son’s un-ending seizures wouldn’t work. And so from then on I never listened to another word he said and sought help from someone else. And my son was seizure-free within 4 days.
I wrote him a letter explaining my feelings (that helped) and I have never seen him since. But I know friends that still go to him, and when looking for a new church we couldn’t try a certain one because HE went there and I just am not sure I can be in the same room with him, even after 7 years.
It has gotten better, more numb, but the hurt is still there. I’m afraid it will always be there.
I think about your Madeline so much, still. I am so sorry she’s not here with you.
I have no words for you, I can’t imagine your pain. I am so sorry about your dear beautiful Maddie. I read your blog every morning but usually don’t comment… I just wanted to send you a virtual hug today.
I agree…there is no forgiving…I wouldn’t be able to either. There has to be something he could of done and he didn’t. Maddie should be here today and its not fair or explainable…I’m pissed off reading that…and I’m so sorry she is gone.
Katie C. says:
I can totally understand how you feel. I miscarried last year, at three months gestation. I went in to the hospital bleeding, and I just knew in my gut that something was very wrong. The doctor did an ultrasound and showed me the baby on the screen and mentioned it was not moving, but never did he say she was dead. He sent me back to my room and a while later, the nurse came in and started taking out my IV’s. I was like “So what’s going on?” He said “Didn’t the doctor tell you?” I was like “NO, HE DIDN’T”. He left the room momentarily and ANOTHER doctor came in and broke the news to me that my baby had died. Then he just turned and walked out of the room. The nurse came back in and he sat with my husband and I and held my hand and told me how sorry he was, and that the doctors were assholes – particularly the original doctor who didn’t have the balls to tell me my baby had died and decided to leave for the day. The doctor literally left for home without telling me. Figured someone else would do the job. It was disgusting. On top of hearing that the baby was gone, I was faced with that sort of idiotic behavior.
I know my story isn’t even nearly the same as your story – your Madeline went from being alive and breathing and full of life to being lifeless, and the doctor still didn’t have an ounce of sympathy. It breaks my heart to think of what you went through, what Maddie went through. It is sick to think a doctor wouldn’t have some compassion. And then to see you not even a year later and he didn’t come up to you and apologize? He is a coward.
It is okay for you to feel that anger. I personally think you should write him a letter (although I wonder, maybe he reads your blog?) and tell him what a piece of crap doctor he was. Not for the fact that Maddie died – of course we can always wonder if he could have done more – but for the fact that he treated the situation so callously. I would want him to know what a jerk he is.
Sending my love to you – no one should ever have to deal with this sort of thing…
Oh, honey. I’m so sorry. There are no words.
I wish you’d taken the time to allow him to speak with you not to clear his conscience but in hopes that he realized the severity of his actions & has changed/grown as a Doctor. You have every right not to forgive & forget. However, I would hope that it might bring you some peace to know that he hopefully has learned something that might make a similar situation less painful for another family as he would hopefully not add another layer of pain to their memories. The hatred you carry really hurts you most in the end. Although, I would suspect that he carries Madeline in his heart everyday & lives with the constant guilt of what happened to her on his watch along with how he presented himself during & after. I can’t imagine anyone in the medical profession doing otherwise. As a From my days as a student & early in my professional career, I still can recall mistakes that I made unintentionally that caused my patient some inadvertent although minor harm. Years have passed & I still remember each & every one.
I hope the above didn’t come off as playing “Devil’s Advocate.” It certainly wasn’t my intent. I simply wish for you some peace regarding his behavior that night. I think it would have been wonderful, again, if you’d spoken to him even if it were only to tell him exactly how you feel & nothing more. You deserve the opportunity for someone else to carry the burden of the hatred you feel. Then you’d know you’d said your peace.
Even though I have never experienced the pain of losing a child, I can totally understand the way you feel. I think it woud be hard for me to forgive too. I am so heartbroken at what you had to go through. I truly hope you do find peace, if not now in the future.
I know that madeline is so proud of you, and so am I. You are so strong Heather! Sending you lots of hugs!!
Michelle H. says:
I’m so sorry Heather. Thanks once again for sharing feelings so raw. I have to hope that getting them out and hearing that you should not be sorry for them some how helps bring you peace. I wish there was more I could do.
I. CAN. NOT. IMAGINE.
I am so so sorry.
I do not blame you for not watning to speak and I do not blame you for not forgiving. I do agree that he is probably hurting in someway too, but I am sure NOT close to the way you are. I hope he reads your posts or that one of the nice nurses will show it to him so he sees what his bed-side-manner did to you. I hope that Maddie changed him forever. I am glad that he respected you enough to stay away @ the conferance and that he “knew” enough too.
Hugs and more hugs!
I come from a family of doctors but that doctor’s behavior is nowhere near acceptable. He probably did everything he could to save her, and perhaps others are correct that her case haunts him. But I can well understand why you can’t yet forgive him for his insensitive, callous attitude toward Maddie’s death. I think you should be proud of yourself for not ripping his throat out during the symposium.
I hope there comes a time that you find peace with this, not for his sake but for yours. Maybe you would feel better if you wrote him a letter? Even if you never mail it (though I think you should – he should know how his actions hurt you, so that he can learn from his mistakes).
The minute he saw you, he should have turned around and left. Even if he is a person making horribly difficult decisions in horribly difficult situations that affect the lives of other people FOREVER, he should have had the common human decency to realize that seeing him would be the very worst thing for you. I’m sorry, Heather. So very sorry.
He never should have shown up in the first place! As Heather said, her name was on the program — he should have stayed far, far away.
Unless, perhaps, he was trying to make peace, trying to salve his own conscience. I suppose I can’t criticize a man for that. But I also cannot, in any way, blame you Heather for wanting nothing at all to do with him.
Even if he did everything he could, even if he tried every possible thing that anyone else would have tried, he handled things 1 billion times the wrong way. I remember your post about that day and I cannot even imagine having to see that man again if I were in your shoes. I’m very sorry you had to see him again. He should not be a doctor dealing with people, especially babies with that kind of work ethic/attitude!
If this is the same SOB who did that freaking…God, I can’t even write it. I can’t go back and re-read your post about that day because it shook me up so bad when I read it the first time (so I can’t even fathom what you went through since you lived it and are living it), but if this is that guy, he deserves to be a hell of a lot more than shaken up. I am so, so sorry you went through this ambush. I think you should have been allowed to be prepared for this, but anyway. I’m going to stop now for fear of saying anything that might make you feel even worse. Thinking of you and sending cyber (((hugs))) and hoping you recover from this latest blow soon. You’re a strong woman. Your daughters are lucky to have you for a mom.
nothing pithy to say…just I’m sorry you had to experience all of that. Your baby Annie is precious!
It’s OK to be angry with him. Don’t ever let anybody tell you that you are not allowed to feel what you’re feeling, or that you have to forgive or move on. If you feel it, it’s OK to acknowledge it.
He doesn’t need your forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a huge hurtle, evening coming to peace with something as huge and painful and gut wrenchingly awful is near impossible. If you never get to that place where you can forgive him or be at peace with him that is your right. He doesn’t deserve your forgiveness, however, you deserve to not have to carry around that additional hurt, anger and pain. For you, I hope one day you can come to some sort of peace with him, just for you.
I love you and I hurt for you. I wish I could just reach through my screen and give you a huge hug.
Aunt Becky says:
I don’t think you have to forgive, Heather. I’ve done a lot of forgiving in my life and I’ve come to the conclusion that not everything requires it. This is one of those cases.
ally (adil320) says:
What she said.
I have to totally agree with you, his behaviour was unforgivable. ((hugs)) to you – I hope you forgive yourself for hating him, because I feel you have every right.
Laber of Love says:
I used to be a hospital social worker so have worked with a lot of doctors, many dealing with end of life patients. Unfortunately I can recall more bad experiences than good. They should have to pass some sort of good person/empathy/social skills/having a beating heart test before they can practice medicine.
You don’t need to forgive him. Be angry as hard and as long as you need to.
Hugs, always thinking of you and your family.
I just don’t think being “angry as hard and as long as you need to” is good advice…..I think its harmful advice
Agreed. While I can’t fathom the depth of Mike and Heather’s grief and anger, it’s generally not good to stay angry. Nothing beneficial comes from that.
Laber of Love says:
I apologize, I should elaborate! My point was that anger is healthy if that is the place you are in at that moment in time. Do I wish that Heather will be able to move away from that anger some day? Of course, I pray for that. But in this moment, that is her emotion and I for one don’t see anything wrong with being true to how you are feeling. It may take 1 year, 10 years, a lifetime. I was just trying to validate that she can be angry as long as she needs to. Apologies!
Katie C. says:
I don’t think there is anything wrong with what Laber of Love said. Everyone here is trying to tell Heather to not feel hate towards this man. Sure, I agree that forgiving will ultimately be what brings her peace, but to try and RUSH that forgiveness is not good. Heather needs to come to that forgiveness in her own time. Heather’s feelings are valid – the guy was rude and heartless during the last moments of Maddie’s life. Nothing is okay about that, and if it takes 20 years for Heather to forgive him, then so be it. No one should rush her.
Amy Collen says:
I agree with Laber of Love. Grief is a strange beast. The loss of a child is a whole different ballgame. In cases like this anger is a natural thing, it gets you through the grieving process. What happened to Maddie is a horrible traumatic event. This doctor played an active role in it. So, the process of dealing with that will take time. Furthermore, flashbacks are very common in cases like this. Seeing this man again brought it all back. Her anger is totally understandable.
While I completely agree that he was beyond insensitive during your situation, I have to be empathetic toward him as well. Though his pain is nothing compared to what yours is, and your anger is totally understandable (as others have said already 100 times), I really think it’s dangerous to hate someone so fiercely and blame them so strongly for the loss of a human life, unless they purposefully killed them. The only reason I think it’s dangerous is because that’s such a tremendous amount of pressure to put on someone, whether they are trained to try and do that or not. It’s hard to imagine what he might have been feeling – shame, failure, disgust at himself, sadness, shock, fatigue… and a conversation (even through a letter) may help clear some things up.
I am very sorry he triggered you, and I am very supportive of your grief (it has been so intimate for you to share it with us) but at the same time, I cannot safely say hateful things about this doctor without knowing his own perspective. It’s too poisoning to do that to another human life who may have children, a family, etc. that have suffered as a result of guilt & pain he may have experienced by not saving your baby girl.
All that being said, I think it's wonderful that you stuck with it & got through it. What strength! And it's also very admirable that you can admit that you don't know if you can be the "bigger" person… what a beautiful thing to be able to admit to strangers.
Just Jiff says:
I hate him for his trreatment of her as an “object” as you put it. His behavior was so far out of line, that I wonder why in the hell he became a doctor. I would never forgive him for that, either.
I hope he feels guilty about that forever. I hope he has nightmares for the rest of his life. I know I sound bitter, but you don’t treat anyone like that — especially a child and their parents.
*HUGS* to all of you.
I’m so sorry that you had to see him there. The idea of having to see someone like that is horrific . . and your anger at him is so absolutely justified. I get chills from reading about how he acted, and I know that’s just a tiny fraction of what you must feel. If you ever thought about forgiving him, it would have to be for your own sake, never his. He doesn’t deserve a thing from you.
Maybe you’ll be able to forgive him someday. If not, that’s okay, too.
My husband is a lawyer (but a great guy). He has had clients who have accidentally taken a life (car accident). They are not doctors, and they didn’t have the responsibility to save lives, but for a few, it ruined them. You don’t have to forgive this doctor, maybe it isn’t in you. But I am worried for you about your anger. Hopefully, this man did the best he could do. Hopefully he followed the proper hospital protocol and I can’t imagine that he didn’t want to save Maddie. I would bet my life that everyone in that room wanted to save her. Doctors aren’t super heros and they are ultimately, only human. Maybe forgiveness will never be something you can give, but I really hope your anger will abate. Anger is a choice and it can kill you, literally. Be careful and be safe.
I vividly remember that post where you wrote about him. It stayed with me for so long, made me burn with anger, that dreadful countdown.
It’s pretty much unforgiveable. I wanted to find out his name and send him a letter, last year. But I didn’t. I don’t understand why he was lingering, trying to talk to you. Seriously what the fuck.
I hope writing about it helped, a bit.
Also, how the hell are you going to top last weeks video tomorrow??
Jamie M says:
Heather, it’s still so soon. In the big scheme of life, it’s still so very soon. Give it more time, and if you’re never ready, you’re never ready. Do what you feel is right for YOU.
Wow! I can’t begin to imagine what it was like to see him again, but to me, I don’t think there is anything wrong with your thoughts and feelings towards him. Stay strong Heather, you’re a good person. (from what I can tell) =)
I’m so sorry. I’m just so sorry. I wish your sweet Maddie was here with you.
Laurie SL says:
What an ugly man. I can’t believe what he did. Although he’s horrible, you have to do what’s best for yourself and do what you can to put your hatred away – not necessarily forgive him if you’re not ready, but I found that it’s never good to harbor hate in your mind and heart. I hope this day passes quickly for you and I pray for you and your family. You have a beautiful family and are very blessed for what you have.
I’m sorry you’re hurting. But like I’m sure your other commenter have said, you are ALLOWED to hate him. Don’t ever feel like your emotions are the wrong ones, they are yours and yours alone. You can feel however you need to feel about someone based on their/your actions in a circumstance. And while I’ve never experienced the pain that you face, I can only imagine was I there, I’d hate him too.
My daughter sent me the link to your website over a year ago and I occasionally “check in” My heart broke with so many others the sad day Maddie passed. I am a Mom and couldn’t ever know the depth of your pain. Along with being a mother I am also a Nurse. The words I want to say come with the gentlest, kindest intention. The doctors and nurse’s did not let Maddy die, there is no fault, they faught with every ounce of medical knowledge and technology that we as humans possess. Maddie’s physical body stopped living, her spirit remained intact but the physical body could no longer stay functional and she let go. I believe that your little angel is safe and in eternal peace. But your suffering goes on. My prayer for you is that there will be a day that you can experiene the peace that Maddie now has. I pray you will someday be able to see that docotr in his “human-ness” knowing we are all limited humans with human flaws.
In honor of your innocent angel I hope you find a way to free yourself
You have EVERY right to feel the way you do about that man. I am glad you stood your ground, you are a very strong woman and I am very proud of you.
Denise Jones says:
In your shoes, I would definitely feel the same way. In fact, I DO feel the same way, and I don’t even know the guy. Attitude and Arrogance have no place in the medical field – best he get his butt outta the profession. You go, girlfriend!
((HUGS)) to you all!
Heather G says:
I’m sorry you had to face that doctor again. I can only imagine how difficult that would be, even if he had treated you & Madeline better. Part of me wonders how “shaken” he is and in what way. I hope he realizes that he needs to treat patients and their families with respect and dignity. Forgive him if it helps you, do it for you not him.
My husband is an ob/gyn….we say he has the BEST job in the world and the WORST job in the world!!! I certainly would never justify the actions of that doctor because it sounds like he needed a major dose of “bedside manner”, but please recognize he is human and he did so everything possible to save Maddie….but he couldn’t…..and it wasn’t his fault. My husband has come home from just the same situations a complete emotional mess falling on the floor crying and praying to God to give him the strength to continue on. He loves his job, cares deeply for his patients, and would never on purpose harm them physically or emotionally. However, because he’s human….its happens…and he hurts…and he asks for forgiveness…and he learns for the next time….and continues to do the best he can…..and that’s all that can be expected of him. Maybe that doctor feels the same way…..maybe you should ask….if you can.
My husband is a paramedic and has dealt with some very seriously ill children. He wears his cool calm head, the one that doesnt go grey, when getting the child stabilised and to hopsital – just what that docotr did – but what he does afterwards is he talks to the parents, he will stand next to them explaining what is going on in recus when everyone else is busy trying to save the childs life, he will take the time to ensure they are supported the best way he can.
He must sometimes come across as cold when concentrating on saving that life – and I’m sure that Doctor seemed the same way – but he communicates afterwards, tells them what he’s doing during. He even sheds tears in front of parents.
It’s like I said before, healing body and soul. Without a soul a body is nothing.
TO begin with, I want to say that I think you have every right to feel whatever you choose to feel. It is a simple fact that his bedside manner was off and he could have treated you much better.
That being said, I want you to know that from my experiences… anger is a shield. It protects us from feeling another, less desired emotion… like grief, or sadness. It isn’t SAFE inside of you, because the victim of the anger is never certain. One minute its the doctor, and the next? Well the next it’s right back on you, and you’re blaming yourself for what you’ve done.
I know its not the same in any way, but this year I finally learned how to find peace with the two people who abused me. I still don’t think that anything they went through was worse than what I had to endure, but I do appreciate that their life has been messed up too from their decisions that year.
I didn’t forgive them for THEM though, I forgave them for me, so that I can live in a world where I don’t fear or hate people as strongly as I once did.
Just a little of my story for you to take with you today.
I wish you all the best, and I am so so sorry for the reality of losing such a beautiful little girl.
When I read (and just now when I reread) what he said/did that night, I feel physically, viscerally sick to my stomach. I can’t imagine what you feel toward him.
But I have many friends who are doctors and nurses and from what I know of what they must confront, especially during emergency situations, there ARE emotionally detached most of the time because they have to be. It’s what makes it possible for them to continue making the decisions they have to make to save lives. They have to be utterly realistic about the fact that some lives can’t be saved. I could never do what they do, just as you’ve said. And I wouldn’t be able to forgive him either. But I think, in all this, it doesn’t mean this man isn’t a good doctor. He dealt with Maddie’s case in a horrible way, but I hope it taught him a lesson. I hope he can find a way to do his job, be detached if necessary, without being callous and cruel. Because that’s what it is. What he said and did that night was cruel.
I would feel the same way if I were in your shoes. It would be very hard to feel any other way.
Wow…as the gf, sister, SIL, and future DIL of physicians, I admit I’m automatically in part defensive/empathetic toward the doctor…I guess I’m picturing my loved ones in his shoes and imagining how they would feel, but obviously they are not him. You have every right to feel this way of course. I wish you the best dealing with it in a healthy way.
This post really got me. I can’t fathom how much it must have taken out of you to not only see him, but to give a speech and interact with everyone else there, knowing he was in the room. I’m so sorry you had to experience that. Hugs to you, and prayers, always.
The whole situation sucks..it just sucks. You, OF COURSE, have every right to feel the way you do. Unfortunately, what sucks is the hatred does more damage in YOUR then in his. Hatred affects your life and your relationships. He may or may not care whether you hate him, but in the end it doesn’t directly affect his life. I just hope you are able to forgive him someday FOR YOU–NOT him.
I, honest to God, don’t know how you held it together and didn’t attack him?!! I remember reading your post about that and feeling utterly sick to my stomach and was wishing ill will on him.
You amaze me with your strength! I would not have reacted even a smidge as well as you did!
I’m sure you’ve gotten tons of forgive him, it will free you and blah blah blah comments.
But friend? Some people don’t deserve to be forgiven. The end.
I’ll hope for you that he is haunted. That he sees Maddie’s face each time he closes his eyes. And? That he suddenly needs to move, so you never ever see him again. Hugs babe. Tons of hugs.
Trisha Vargas says:
This is your road to travel Heather. Be angry, be hurt, be shaken. It sucks! I cannot fathom it, not the loss of a child.
Maybe one day peace will come, but until that day you have to just cope as best as you can.
I can only imagine how hard it was to not lose it at the sight of the doctor that day. You again showed how truly tough you are.
(((HUGS))) from Florida
There is such a thing as emotional intelligence, and it’s not fluff. It should be required to be a doctor, and it’s not. Not at all. In my family’s tragedies, I don’t just pick people to lash out at to blame them for my loss. There were people who were amazing in my time of need. And there were people who were callous and even cruel.
You have a right to point out who acted badly even when you’re grieving. I believe you are not just looking for someone to blame.
My grandmother (please know I completely and totally understand an 80 year old woman is not your child and that the emotions and feelings are VASTLY different and for good reason, but it’s my experiences and all I can use to relate) had a stroke and the doctors and the hospital acted like, because she was older, she wasn’t worth any effort in rehabilitation, treatment, etc. They refused to authorize her into a treatment program that would have worked to rehabilitate her speech, etc., and instead relegated her to go home and die. She had a lot of life left in her, and to this day, it makes me seething mad, because I got to watch that life wither away and die for three, agonizing months. I don’t know who these people are, but I can tell you that I will never forgive them and I understand what you are saying. I get that doctors and medical professionals have to make hard decisions about people’s loved ones, but it doesn’t change that feeling of being robbed.
Lots of love and prayers your way.
You don’t have to forgive him. Ever. His behavior was unconscionable. It doesn’t mean you are a bad person at all. After 59 years of living I have decided that forgiveness is often highly overrated. It’s not something you need to do.
Loves you. You’re such a smart, articulate, spot on, determined, fierce mama bear.
Maybe this doctor can learn from the experience and can become better for it. Of course, it’s not worth the loss of any life in order for a doctor to learn his/her lesson. But still… maybe it’s possible for him to never behave so thoughtlessly ever again. I hope so.
I still have moments of pure anger towards my ob/gyn who didn’t do anything when she discovered the twins I was carrying were too small. For six months I was told, everything is fine, up until the day I was told one of my boys had died in the womb. I have not and will not set foot in her office, if only she would have done her job as a DR I would have both of my sons with me right now, and not ache for my baby that died.
Dr’s aren’t perfect, but when they hold our lives and our children’s lives in there hands, they are held to a higher standard.
I hope both of our DR’s are living with guilt, and it’s a daily reminder to do a better job for the rest of their career.
Creepy Mommy says:
Only you know what’s best. A favorite line of mine is, “I’m just going to have to feel this way until I don’t *feel this way anymore!” Teri Garr, Tootsie. And it’s so, so true.
Also, did you realize you wrote about this doctor exactly one year ago today? I remember parts of that post without even having to go back and look. Just horrific and I’m so sorry for your tremendous loss. Sending good ju-ju to your family..
Jessica Seuss says:
I work for a certain medical center mentioned above (not the Santa Monica location) in the legal dept. I have seen and heard similar cases that have made us weep. Some cases stay in my head for days, I can’t shake them. As a mother to a young son who once played with your beautiful Maddie (at a playdate with Matt Logelin – I don’t think you remember us, there were a lot of people there), I have been moved by your experience. I can’t imagine a medical professional being so inconsiderate. There are good doctors out there, sadly, it is the jerks like HIM that get remembered. I am proud to say that I work for a department that truly does try to root out the bad ones. Please let me know the next time you may be speaking in my area, I would love to attend. I hope that talking about it with others does bring some kind of catharsis. Much love to you and your family.
Laurie SL says:
Follow-up to my comment – I’m glad that you have an outlet for your frustration, anger, and saddness (though I know you can’t fully be free of these at this time). Through talking to your family, therapists, and your blog, I hope it gives you some relief from being overwhelmed at times. I love looking at your pictuers of Annabel and of Maddie. They are both so very precious, even though I have not met them.
What a difficult post to write. It is so hard to wrestle with the anger you feel each day, I know.
I feel the same way about the doctor who was in charge when my sister died. He acted in virtually the same manner–so matter of fact and nonchalant when he said they were only going to try CPR for a certain length of time. The look on my moms face, how her voice cracked with tears is permanently etched into my mind. How he was laughing it up with some nurses just outside her room after my sister died, while we were still standing over her lifeless body. I wanted to strangle him.
I’m glad I don’t remember what he looks like. I was in too much of a fog to even pay attention. I will never step foot in that hospital again.
I hope you can begin to heal just a tiny bit. Never fully, I know, but just a little. You don’t have to forgive him. Let yourself know and accept that and hopefully THAT will help with the anger you have.
All my best to you, Mike and Annie.
I can’t imagine how infuriating, painful, heartwrenching and horrible dealing with this must have been for you.
I think of you, Mike, Maddie and Annie every day!
He made the worst day of your life worse. I hate him too.
My mom had very similar feelings towards the doctor that was attending to my brother when he passed away after a botched surgery. I always thought that it consumed her, but your post opened my eyes so much – I know understand that it’s hard to forgive someone when they treat your most prized “possession” with calousness. In all honesty, my brother’s doctor was a jerk and he had the exact same issues regarding his bedside manner that it seems you experienced. And the sad part is, from what I have heard in my hometown community, this doctor has done nothing to improve himself or his practice. I do hope the experience helps the PICU doctor improve himself because really, it’s an interactive career and any doctor that doesn’t realize that probably should be in research rather than dealing with the public.
Maybe he went to your talk as some kind of penance–but he still should have stayed away.
I’ve never told anyone they were “strong” before, it sounds like such a cliche, but seriously woman, you are strong!!
Oh Heather, I am so sorry. I clicked over to your blog on my Blackberry in traffic this morning. You’ve had so many adorable, funny posts lately about Annabel so I thought I might get a laugh on the way in to work. Instead I ended up with tears streaming down my face in the car. The others stuck in traffic must have wondered what the heck was wrong with me.
I admit I have shed tears before for Madeline, even though I never met her, just at the basic unfairness of it all. As you have previously noted, the timing at which she was born was certainly not ideal, but pretty decent for a preemie in general. Her birth weight would lead one to be optimistic. The fact that she had lived so long… I have often wondered WHY and HOW did she die. You have mentioned little things- you read us Maddie death certificate, you mentioned that everything began going wrong when she was intubated, you wrote a heart-wrenching post about Him, the doctor. I completely understand, though, why you have been unable to write a detailed account of that day. Reading your post on the doctor really brought home the difficulty of doing that. There is naturally still so much emotion there, and always will be.
All I can say is that I am certain I am not the only one who began to cry upon reading this post. Although we can never understand the level of what you are going through, once again, we are crying with you and we all wish things could be SO different. ((((HUGS)))) That’s the best I can do.
I could never be a doctor. I would be one who would continue to work up a child for hours and hours and hours until my arms literally fell off. How do you decide when to stop? To stop!! I just couldn’t….
The way that doctor treated you was horrible. To have counted down like that…I can only imagine how frightening it was to hear that. When he got to 3, then 2…. oh my gosh, Heather…how could he have thought that was even slightly okay? If I was a nurse there I think I would have gave him a slight kick with my foot and then when he looked at me I would have given him a look as if to say, “WHAT the heck are you doing? Stop that counting!!”
I can only hope that he somehow learns from this and will never, ever repeat that kind of bedside manner ever again. But yes…I do wish he would have learned that before caring for your Maddie. It’s all so heartbreaking.
About forgiveness. Only you can decide if you are ever ready for that. You might not ever be. I would say that in my opinion it depends upon how much it eats away at you. If it consumes your thoughts each day (which it doesn’t sound like it does) then I think to find a way to forgive would be healing to you. But if you don’t think about this all the time, but only sometimes, then perhaps forgiveness is not necessary. You hate him, and I think that’s completely understandable. Forgiveness….is sometimes over-rated.
I have never forgiven the careless driver that hit into our car and caused my daughter’s brain injury. I think I could have, if she had ever made an attempt to contact us to ask how our daughter was. But she never did. Here her careless driving altered my daughter’s life, almost killed her, and she knew this but never called to say she was sorry, or to even ask how she was doing? She knew our daughter was on life support for two weeks, and in the PICU for 3 months after that, and therapy for years and years and years…. But we didn’t get a card, a phonecall, nothing. She is a mother of two children, and I just can’t understand how she could go on in life knowing how badly she hurt someone else’s child without making some attempt at contact. So no, I haven’t forgiven her and it’s been 13 years since it happened. I only think about it every once in a while, but when I do, I can get so angry. I would forgive her, if I needed to for myself and my own peace of mind. But like I said, I don’t give her much thought anymore. I’m thinking that perhaps she is out there somewhere, and maybe she hasn’t forgiven herself….not so much for the accident, because accidents happen….but for not making contact with the family. Not saying sorry. No card sent — nothing. I know for myself, if I ever did that to a child, I could never live with myself if I didn’t apologize to the parents, kept in some kind of contact on her progress over the years — something!
Dear Heather, Only my opinion, but I think it is healthy to feel angry about the devastating loss of beautiful Maddie. I think it is better to be able to feel and express anger. It is wrong and unfair that your beloved child died, why wouldn’t you feel angry? I think it is better to feel angry at someone else, then it is to keep it in and be angry at yourself, and or angry at Mike. Seems to me that this man is an appropriate person to feel anger towards and I think anger expressed is an anger that will wear out, but anger kept in becomes depression and anxiety. Only my humble opinion, but 16 years down the road, I remember it comforted me when other people felt sad and angry with me.
Katie C. says:
Every time I read the story of what the doctor did, I cringe… The fact that he would count down – OUT LOUD – is just so disgusting. It is one thing if he said after a certain stretch of time, “Okay we’ve done this for a half hour, I’m so sorry” but to count down? Like he was expecting it to all not do any good anyway? It is just unfathomable.
I agree that the doctor probably DID do all he could – but his behavior was reprehensible. Madeline was not an object. She was a precious child. EVERY patient a doctor has is someone’s precious child, and should be looked at as such. If a doctor cannot handle that sort of thing, they shouldn’t be a damn doctor!
Ugh. I know I have already commented like 3 times this post, but it just makes me so upset. I hope that one day, your anger will subside a bit, but girl – I cannot blame you one bit. That doctor that was so rude to me the day I lost my baby – well thank God I can’t remember what his stupid face looks like or else I would want to punch him square in the nose.
Peace to you, Heather.
Laber of Love says:
Katie-thank you for putting in to words what I obviously could not! (and hugs to you for your bad experience and m/c)
Snickrsnack Katie says:
Thanks, Laber! You are awesome! And I think you put your ideas into words very well.
Glad you were able to get it out! So sorry you had to go through all of that in addition to losing your beautiful daughter.
So sorry for this…I don’t blame you, at all, one tiny bit. I hope he is haunted by this and that this is yet one more way Maddie can change the world. It shouldn’t have been her job, he should have learned to have compassion somewhere else in his life. FWIW, I a Christian and I know (KNOW) I should forgive people but this one would be really really hard for me (not saying it right but it’s true). I really hope he somehow gains some true compassion and a working heart.
Long time reader, but first time commenter.
Four years ago, my nephew Matthew was born prematurely, with some birth defects. He lived two weeks in the hospital before he passed away. Myself and most of the family lived in the hospital those two weeks too.
One of Matthew’s doctors spoke painfully slowly, and I’d often find his mannerisms frustrating. Not that he wasn’t a good doctor, or that he had a bad bedside manner per se, but he got on my nerves nonetheless. But when Matthew died, he wasn’t working in the unit that day. He came in regardless and said to my sister-in-law, “It was my privilege to take care of your son.” I’m not sure those words were any comfort to my sister-in-law, but they struck me as the kindest thing he could have said at that awful moment. Doctor’s words do matter.
I simply can’t imagine how you get through ANY day, let alone one like the day of the conference.
Amy Collen says:
I haven’t read all the comments yet so I am not sure if this has already been said. Anyway, I can completely relate to what you are going through with this man. My son, thankfully, had a very peaceful death. I do recall at the time though that the doctor who was present asked if we wanted to do an autopsy on him. Um, wrong timing, dude. The day of our son’s death????? Autopsy?????
I am happy to say, however that we did develop a strong relationship with this man later as he was instrumental in finding the right medicines, ventilator machines, etc. for my other son, Sam. I think my Noah’s death changed him a bit. It should have because that is not the thing to say to parents AT ALL!!
Actually, the one person I actually wanted to throttle was the damn funeral director guy who took his sweet time attending to us when we were planning our son’s funeral. it just amazes me the insensitivity of this man.
So, definitely that doctor needs to take a lesson from this. Hopefully, this has changed him forever. Actually I am pretty positive it has.
Sometimes in life people make really big mistakes and i feel in some cases it is not our job to give them reprieve. He needs to understand what happened and be a better doctor because of it. It shouldn’t be your job to grant him forgiveness. I think he should reach out to you actually. If i were him I would write you a letter. However, that is just me….
Snickrsnack Katie says:
Very well said, Amy.
And I am so sorry to hear of your son’s death and your other son’s sickness…
Amy Collen says:
Thank you! My other son Sam is a thriving 3 year old now. As we speak he is running around “neked” fresh from a bath and looking for some highjinks to get into. LOL! Actually he just woke up his 1 year old brother. Grrr….
Amy Collen says:
Oh, I forgot to mention. My son that died was a 6 day old, 25 week micropreemie with a Grade IV brain hemorrhage. Pretty obvious why he died.
What a horrible experience, and I’m so sorry you had to go through it. Your feelings are natural, and you are certainly entitled to them, and I’m sure I’d feel the very same way if I were in your shoes. I do believe, though, that that doctor wanted to save your Maddie with everything he had. His actions toward you may have been stress-induced, he may detach in order to do his work, or he may just have a crappy personality. In any way, there’s no excuse, but I do think he tried, and I do think he cares, and I think that him wanting to talk to you that day shows that. Sending you prayers for peace.
Oh honey, first of all, it hasn’t been that long since Maddie passed. Second of all, a lot of that time was spent dealing with the emotions of a new pregnancy. Third of all, that doctor was a serious douchebag in the hospital and I think that behavior stands as a major impediment to ever forgiving him.
That doctor could have done so much to have made Maddie’s finals moments better for you and Mike. It’s not about his medical abilities, it’s about his lack of emotional abilities, which are just AS critical.
He could have embraced both of your with concern, love, and comfort, and promised you that he would do everything he could to save your beautiful, precious daughter.
Initially I thought, “what purpose does it serve to tell parents how long a doctor will work to save a child?”; however, later I realized he probably did this to warn you ahead of time so you wouldn’t push him to try longer when he did eventually stop. I’m sure he’s had to face countless angry, hurt, and scared parents who urged him to continue trying to save their child beyond those 10 minutes, and in his head, this was his way around it, but what he did was not humane. It is understandable that a parent would beg, plead, and pray for a doctor to continue trying to save their child, but when this happens, why not embrace the parent with love and comfort? Tell them that everything possible was done to save their loved one, but unfortunately, it was time to face the awful truth that their child was not coming back. He should look them in their eyes sincerely and with hand on heart, say, “I’m so incredibly sorry”.
There is no easy to deliver news like this, but it can be done in way that doesn’t add pain to an already excruciating moment.
As for the countdown? I have no words. What an absolutely horrible, despicable thing to do.
I’m so happy that the jerk doctor heard your lecture and is now aware of all that he did wrong with dear Maddie passed away. This was retribution for you, in a way, not a lot of parents get to do this, and I hope, maybe in some small way, it might contribute to your healing. If nothing else, I hope your talk pushed him to change so that future parents won’t have to go through the anguish you and Mike did.
That sounds just unbelievably hard. I remember your writing about him after Madeline passed. I’m glad you have made peace but still so sorry you had to go through it–and face him unexpectedly (really, they should have prepared you)–at all.
I hope he reads your post. Knowing that you don’t forgive him is actually healing. Then you know how you feel. I think they should have told you he was going to be there, always good to be prepared.
p.s. Annie is absoultely beautiful. I think she has someones eyelashes….
I had to write to you. My best friend’s cousin’s daughter whom is 4, died today AT DAYCARE. They think she choked on a grape. She asked, how do parents get through something like that? I immediately thought of you and your strength and I told her minute by minute and hour by hour. Any advice on what to say to her? I feel like there are no words and really nothing other than having her alive again would provide any comfort. I myself have a 4 year old daughter and it reminded me how delicate life can be. I commend you for showing your bravery and your thoughts will all of us.
I’m sure seeing that doctor took your breath away for a minute- I would feel the same disgust as you. thanks for venting!
Snickrsnack Katie says:
Oh my GOD. That is just horrifying, Melissa. I am so paranoid about grapes and hotdogs and other choke-able food items – my family always jokes with me about being the paranoid lady. I cut everything into tiny pieces for the kids in our family. That is so terrible about your friend’s child…. God bless that family.
I work in the under 2’s room of a childcare centre. When I cut up fruit for the morning I always cut the grapes in half so they can be chewed easier….reading this ensures that I will always do it, even though its considered ‘overcautious’.
Wishes for eventual peace to the family xxx
Kristen McD says:
I can’t believe, after all he did, he had the nerve to want MORE from you. Wow.
Amanda M. says:
I could never be a doctor, holding that responsibility. I don’t know how people do it.
I am glad he was there to hear what you had to say, and I am glad that he had the good sense to NOT approach you when you gave clear signals that you did not want to be approached.
You DID take the high road by ignoring him the best you could, and not interacting verbally or physically ( I know many of us would love to just get one good swing at the guy).
Thoughts and prayers as you continue down this most difficult road .
Wow. Just…wow. I’ve had my share of cruddy doctors. (I had one on Monday when i had surgery. No matter how many times I tried to tell him I have a high tolerance for pain meds, he kept writing out the same low dose Rx and telling me he wasn’t “comfortable” handling it and that it’s my primary care Dr’s job. OK, thanks. I’ll just sit around in terrible pain for a week until my appt with my primary.) But none of my experiences even come *close* to what you & Mike experienced.
As others suggested, I would write a letter to the hospital. I’m willing to bet that he’s behaved this way before; the more letters of complaint they receive, the more likely they are to do something about it. Maybe a nice long suspension would shape him up…
I have to wonder if he reads your blog; if he realizes all of the pain and grief he caused. (The pain and grief HE caused is totally separate from what the death itself caused. The shit HE caused was 100% preventable.) I hope he does, and I hope he tries to improve himself every day because of it.
Heather, I just re-read your beside manner post and I have to say that I just want to hug you. I was in the room with my husband and family as they made the very hard decision to take his mother (only 55) off life support. There was nothing they could have done for her. One nurse stayed and cried with us, but the dr. (who had blown us off the night before that her symptoms were just a reaction from her antibiotics, not a life threatening brain-bleed) stood off in the corner and shot us a nasty look as we sat in that icu sobbing.
I will never understand what you have been through losing your beautiful Maddie, but I do understand your never wanting anyone to go through that issue with their doctor again.
One of the pediatricians at the office where I take the kids is horrible. He’s made me bawl my eyes out three times. HE is just plain awful. I told our pediatrician about this man and he agreed with all my concerns and gave me his personal e-mail so I can contact him if the bad doctor is on call when the kids are sick. (Our pediatrician is a saint!)
Mama Fuss says:
Oh, Heather, I am so sorry you had to go through that. I am glad that he sat through your panel, but I am so sorry that you had to see him at all. And I’m sorry you had to go through it at all, most of all.
But I’m glad you’re getting through that confrontation. It’s good that you have an outlet.
Nobody can fault you for how you feel. I would feel the same way too. In fact, I hated him when I read your post a year ago and I hate him now again. That said, some doctors develop this callousness as a protective mechanism to avoid mental breakdown. It’s a matter of self-preservation. I mean, if they allowed themselves to FEEL and feel the immense pain surrounding the giving of bad news so often or having their patients pass away and feeling like failures, it would destroy them emotionally and professionally. That may have been going on with this guy too; maybe he simply couldn’t handle the situation emotionally and was compensating by being a jerk. Still I wish he could have shown you kindness that horrible day.
You have every right to feel the way you do! Sending you hugs XXX
You really don’t have to explain yourself. What the doctor did was sick and twisted. Yelling out a countdown was beyond crude. I think you should write a letter to the hospital and send a copy to him. Maybe he will think twice next time and behave differently should the situation arise again with another family.
I wasn’t there, I didn’t even know you then but I hate him too. He should have BEEN there for you and he wasn’t. I will never forgive that. I don’t know the whole story and maybe never will but, I do know this to be true….TODAY, you are My Friend…..I care about you, I care about Mike, Annie and I care about Maddie. Today, I hate him….because you are my friend and because, I love and miss Maddie too.
Sarah M. says:
I pray that that horrible doctor has changed his ways & treats his patients & their parents with the respect & kindness they deserve. What a horrible, horrible way to act. Sending lots of hugs your way!
Audrey at Barking Mad says:
I’m here, reading every day, yet I rarely comment because I simply can’t find the words. Yet I’m one of your sisters in this sad sad sorority we belong to.
You can rush forgiveness. You just can’t. Whilst it’s an intentional act, it’s also something you can’t force. It took me 20 years…TWENTY years to forgive the man who killed my son. http://www.iambarkingmad.com/spotted_dick_and_other_mu/2010/01/almost-20-years-later-its-finally-time-to-lay-some-demons-to-rest-.html
I think the harder thing though, as a mother…Joshua’s mother, is forgiving myself. I couldn’t make it better. Will it take me another 20 years before I forgive myself? I don’t know. I never even really grieved his death. I’ve only just stared to go through that process. But I knew I was ready, FINALLY ready to forgive the man who was ultimately responsible for his death.
In time Heather, in YOUR time, I think you will come to a place where you’ll be ready to forgive this physician.
You’re working your way through what some call this process of grieving. I don’t believe it’s a process because we go through it the rest of our lives. But don’t ever let anyone rush you or tell you “it’s time” when it comes to this. The fact of the matter is, it’s hell and only you know for a fact, inside that place in your soul that has forever been altered and changed – only you will know, by listening to that place deep within, when it’s time for anything.
Know that I think of you often and just wish I had the words, despite walking a very similar road.
Much love my sister,
Audrey at Barking Mad says:
I meant that you CAN’T rush forgiveness! Fat fingers and small keyboards do NOT mix!
Just loving you. That’s all.
Monkey's Mama says:
Heather, I can’t thank you enough for putting into words the exact feelings I have for the doctor who, I believe, let my dad die a miserable death. When I hear his name even now, three years and 3 months later, I shake, I flip out, I say hateful things. People don’t understand and they think “he did everything he could”. He didn’t. Your words are powerful and I am so grateful you shared this story.
I came back to comment again because I just can’t get this off my mind.
Heather, I agree wholeheartedly with what another commenter said above me; That man made the worst day of your life worse.
And for that, he is NOT worthy of your forgiveness.
Ugh! That doctor sucks. He could be the best at what he does out of all the doctors in the world, but his attitude belies that. If a doctor cannot be tender (especially when dealing with a child), then he should-as a friend once said-go work with goats and not people! (No offence to goats or the decent people that may own them.)
I am so so sorry that you have had the grief of Maddie’s passing compounded by a having a doctor there who was a complete a$$. It infuriates me.
Wish I could offer more than my gall…hmmm…how about a cyber ((((hug))))?
Fairly Odd Mother says:
Wow—-I can only imagine that feeling in your stomach the second you realized he was there.
I can’t stand it when doctors have the mind and the skill, but totally lack empathy. I hope his behavior shook him up. But, even if he was trying to be Super Emotionless to try to protect himself from breaking up (maybe he does the ugly cry), he should have IMMEDIATELY seen you after the room had cleared and let you see he was human. And, for CRIPESAKES, kept that awful, inhumane countdown to himself and not screamed it to the room.
Again, so sorry you had to go through this.
I only want to tell you that I think you and your family are amazing to battle back from this to do such good for the world.
That should NEVER EVER have happened. That doctor was totally wrong. No two ways, no excuses, no explanations…. WRONG.
You do what ever is best for you. Whatever you want. Whatever gives you an ounce of comfort or even just does not create more pain.
Douchebag, Capital D! Ugh!! What a turd! I can totally understand why you would want to hurt him!! Stay strong, there are lots of turds in the bowl and you have to just flush them away!! Take Care.
I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I wouldn’t be able to forgive him either if I were in your shoes.
Ella xxx says:
You probably wont get to read this as its so far down the posts but…
My husband Luke and our 2 month old daughter Isabella were killed when a drunk driver drove through a red light and hit them on a pedestrian crossing.
The drunk driver…whose name was Jeremy, although I usually refer to him as ‘Him’ too, crashed his car after he hit my family and he died a few days later from his injuries.
I’m not going to go into what I went through here – you know. you realise – but after a while I got a letter from his mother – he was only 19. Im not sure how she got my address, though my name was in the paper so I guess she just looked me up in the phone book.
Among all the apologies she asked to meet with me and after a lot of soul searching I agreed to it. Speaking to this woman – a grieving mother too – who loved ‘Him’ so much, this person who had loomed so largely in my life as figure of deep evil and pain…it changed my attitude.
I went from thinking of him as the boogey man to thinking of him as a stupid kid whose mama loved him – and that person was harder to hate. I also learned that before he died he was told exactly what he had done, how brutally my family died because of his actions and that he screamed and cried and begged god to forgive him.
The bitter part of me got confirmation that he suffered. The giving part of me got confirmation that he was deeply sorry and horrified.
Nothing could or really ever will help me with my pain and grief over the fact that I had everything I loved in the world ripped away from me in an instant. But knowing things from his point of view gave me a feeling of peace towards that part of my awful story.
I sincerely hope that one day you will be able to regain at least that small aspect of peace.
Amy Collen says:
I am at a loss for words. Just wanted you to know I read your comment. Very well said.
The fact that he came – on what was probably a busy ward day – to listen to your talk – is unusual.
I’m a doctor. I’ve seen many colleagues screw up, especially in the bedside manner department, for many reasons – fear, fatigue, the need to keep performing and not let yourself fall apart- and I’ve screwed up myself. Most of them stuff it away and try not to think about it. There’s too many life and death decisions in a day. Too many chances to screw up. So many things so sad that it’s hard to remember to just stand there and feel it
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do better. I’m so very sorry for what you had to go through. I will take this reminder to the hospital tomorrow, for the next patient, for the next family. It’s the least I can do.
I’m sorry you had to deal with that Dr. again. I remember reading about how he treated you in the hospital. I’ve had vets putting pets of mine to sleep treat me with a hell of a lot more compassion than that guy treated you. I worked for about 9 yrs as a medical receptionist all throughout my twenties and recently was working toward going to nursing school. I have worked with a few good doctors but sadly the bad experiences out weigh the good. A lot of the doctors I have worked with have the “I am God” complex, treat patients like cattle, etc. As a receptionist I’d listen to these patients complaints and present them to the Dr. I’ve had doctors laugh about a patient concerns and call them names behind their backs. I’ve had doctors brush people off and leave for the day, not answering the patient. I became so disgusted with the medical profession. I completed all my nursing school pre-classes already, the anatomy classes etc. This spring I received my letter of acceptance into nursing school for this fall. I turned them down and am now going to college to be a social worker. I’m 30 now and it will take a bit longer to finish college but I feel it’s worth it. I will be at peace and feel good about my career. I do think even if there was a class on bedside manner that dr’s were required to take there still would be a ton of douchebag doctors because a lot of them are in it for the money and the power trip of having the letters MD after their name.
You don’t have to ever apologize for any of your feelings. You can’t control how you feel and you shouldn’t try. Those feelings are your way of facing down what happened every single day. If you didn’t have someone to hate you wouldn’t be able to breathe. His behavior was deplorable. My mom is a surgery nurse. She does recovery and pre-op. I know A LOT of surgeons. One thing they all have in common is a God complex. I don’t begrudge them that because in essence they do play God multiple times a day. Every time they put someone under anesthesia they risk losing them, so a fair amount of ego and lack of humility is understandable and acceptable but some just take it too far and this guy is definitely one of them.
kymberli q. says:
Heather, I’d write him a letter. I’d tell him exactly what you wanted to say to him…maybe not all the hate stuff at the end but how terrible he treated you and the situation. …and how you saw him watching you over and over again at the conference… I’d just write all of it and send it off to him. I know it will never bring Maddie back, but to have him know what you think, might give you some closure with that particular part of that experience. If nothing at all, maybe he’ll think about how awful it was for you and that might help someone else in the future. Big hugs to you.
Hi Heather. Thank you so VERY VERY much for this post. If I’m being honest, initially I made a snap judgment about your feelings toward this doctor. But your words stuck with me for days, and now I feel very differently. I know you are super busy, but if you have a second, I just posted an apology to you on my blog for making that judgment. It talks a little bit about my story and how i can relate to you about forgiveness. I hope you have time to read it. Thank you for your wonderful words.
Tachae M says:
I know this feeling of hate for that doctor, feeling that he could have done more, why didnt he, and such.
I have felt that hate, but after 3 years, I came to realize that he did not intentionally let the person closest to me die.
you may not see this comment, but I do hope you find it in your heart to forgive him someday somehow. I really do.
This post still haunt me,so much in fact I searched for it today, there are no words.