Saturday, June 4, 2011

Signed. Sealed. Delivered.

I was going to write a post going over the play by play of my most recent doctor visit with my new primary care physician. Instead I am pasting the letter I wrote to her. I get sick to my stomach each time her words replay in my head. You will all get the main idea of my unbelievably awful experience.

I am unsure why I have such bad luck with doctors. I had such a horrible experience with my previous primary care doc right after Janessa died. (You can read here) I wish my high risk ob could be my one and only doctor so I could spare myself these encounters.

I hope my next doctor works out.

Below is the letter with only a few small changes of personal information.
_______________________________________


June 4, 2011

Dr. X,

After I left your office on Friday and had time to sit with my experience with you, I knew I had two things to do. First was to switch primary care doctors and second was to write this letter. The visit to your office on June 3rd, was a horrible experience and one I do not wish to repeat.

I understand you have never experienced the death of your child and unless you have carried a child, loved that child, and then had to bury that child, you couldn’t possibly understand. I would not wish that on any parent. What I would wish for everyone, is to possess some compassion. Something you seem void of. I understand as a doctor you have learned to separate your emotions from your work. I agree in some cases that it is necessary. I also believe there is a time to call upon your human emotions while dealing with your patients.

While expressing my struggle with anxiety and the death of my daughter with you, I teared up. It has been only two years since our little girl passed and I still experience moments of sadness and grief. Her two year anniversary was only two weeks ago and emotions are currently raw. Telling me I should have only grieved for one year was insulting to me and would be to any loving parent. You may have read in some text book somewhere about a one year grief timeline but the pain and grief of losing a child does not have a time limit. We did not wake up on the day after her one year anniversary and suddenly feel healed. Grief does not work on a schedule or have a cookie cutter mold.

Grief is not something I enjoy. I wish she had not died and was here with her family, but she did and that is a part of me forever. The grief will ease on its own timeline, not mine - or yours. It has already eased some and I am sure it will continue to do so as the years go on. I am NOT having a “prolonged grief reaction” as you stated. My reaction is a perfectly natural response to loss of a child. Her death was unnatural,  and losing a child is traumatic. The bond between parent and child is unlike any other. It is completely unrealistic to think that losing a child is so easy to “get over”. You never get over it. You grieve, you deal, you accept what has happened and it becomes intertwined into your life, for the rest of your life. I think about my daughter each and everyday and will do so my entire life.

I have worked hard on my grief. I succumb to it and worked through it to be at the place I am today. I raise my two boys and function daily. I feel joy each day. I have learned to enjoy life again. Not quite like before but I am sure that will return in time as well. Grief does still sneak in but how can it not? That is normal. One of our children is not here with us. Feeling sad about the death of a child only two years later is NOT abnormal as you seem to think it is. In fact I will grieve the loss of my daughter my entire life. That won't change. Only how I grieve will.

When you told me, “It is time your new baby starts erasing your pain.” I was appalled. He has filled our lives with additional joy but he did not come here with a job. We did not bring him into our family to rid us of grief. We had him to join our family. To share our love with. Not be a cure or eraser of our pain. To have him be born with a “job” would be extremely selfish of us.

I was also insulted at your suggestion we adopt a little girl so we could have a girl in the family. I would not adopt a little girl to replace our daughter. I could never imagine putting a little girl in such a position. The thought of having her grow up and learn about her sister’s death and think she was there to fill some void breaks my heart. Imagine how she would feel. Another little girl would not be a fix to our daughter’s death. Children are not replaceable and should not be adopted to fulfill a purpose imposed on by their parents. They should be adopted because you want to open your heart and share your love and family with them.

...

Maybe you should do some research on the process of grief. Educate yourself in an area you seem to have little understanding or compassion of. Possibly brush up on your mental health information as well.

I hope this letter wakes you up to your poor bedside manner. I hope that you think about your words before they exit your mouth. I hope you can dig down deep and pull out some empathy when the situation calls for some and help you fulfill the oath you took to heal. What my biggest wish is for, is to possibly spare another grieving parent the additional pain you have caused me.

 
- Malory

http://www.compassionatefriends.org
 
Grief, the most profound form of sorrow,

demands the support and compassion
of our fellow human beings"
-Alan D Wolfelt





13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mal, I understand the shock of a doctor thinking a child is 'replaceable'. When my OB told me to abort Kyra, she said "I'll even do another insemination for free so you can just get pregnant again". Like another pregnancy would fulfill the potential loss of my child. I was appalled then and I am appalled now hearing that same type of reaction for you.

Anne S

Tiffany said...

Good for you! Way to stand up for yourself and all of the rest of us who are in this awful position. This MD had no right to say these completely awful and incorrect things to you. I'm so sorry you had to sit there and listen to that. I hope your next doctor is much better than this!

Jaime said...

I am truly sorry that you had to endure that appointment. How awful of a "professional" to treat you that way. I commend you fir having the courage to write him/her that letter. I too hope that s/he will get your message loud and clear and possibly spare another grieving parent of more heartache. Hugs to you.

x <3 o

Lesley said...

Wow you are a lot nicer than what I would of had to say! Has this doctor lost anyone at all in his/her life? I still tear up when I talk about my grandparents and my godfather, even though they were in their 70's-90's when they passed. Good job for sticking up for yourself!

Heather said...

This is awful. I'm so glad you wrote that letter, and I hope it does some good!

Connie said...

Malory,
That kind of stuff makes me so sad. I encounter this attitude all the time. It is amazing to me how many people have no empathy or compassion for the pain of others. One of the hardest things about losing a child is having to deal with people who expect us to "be over it" by now. Or the ones that quickly change the subject when your child's name is mentioned.
When we lose anyone we care about we dont "get over it" we learn to accept and adjust our lives to the reality that we have lost them.
It took me many years to adjust to the loss of my mother. It has been 28 years and I still miss her and there are moments of sadness for that loss still.
Losing a parent is a natural and expected loss that everyone experiences sooner or later in life.
Losing a child is un-natural and traumatic. At only the two year mark in the loss of our daughters, we would not be human if we did not still grieve. The long grief process is not a "prolonged grief reaction" it is a perfectly natural response to loss of a child. I have a spot in every minute of every day for Kelly her absence is present in my every waking moment just a shade below the surface of everything I do, think and say. I have talked to people who have 10 years and more since the loss of their child and their pain and grief is still very real and present it becomes a part of your life and colors your world forever when you lose a child. People need to understand that we will NEVER "get over it" I expect that we will eventually get better at ignoring the callous remarks of others who think we "should be over it by now".

Stacy Spuria said...

Oh Mal! It is so unfortunate that you had to deal with this person. I personally have a dislike for the doctors who practice in the town you live in. To me, they are all the bottom of the totem pole, either to new to know really what they are doing or just so bad no "good" medical facility would want them. I wish you the best in your search for a doctor that you are comfortable with and one that takes the time to get to know you the person not the number patient they are seeing that day. If you are willing to travel to Auburn I can recommend my nurse practitioner! She's wonderful!

crystal theresa said...

Oh, sweetie, I'm so proud of you for writing and sending that letter. I couldn't bring myself to do it when the social worker suggested I see a psychiatrist less than 2 months after I lost Calvin, and instructed Louie to call 5 to make sure I get seen (because I apparently wasn't competent enough to do it myself). I guess that's in my records now, too, since the doctor seemed concerned about my well being after losing another baby. But another therapist at the same hospital did talk to her on my behalf, so hopefully she thinks twice before telling a baby loss mom that her baby "wasn't even a baby" or immediately assuming that she is suicidal and severely depressed.

I wish you didn't have to go through that. And I so hope you find a better doctor with more compassion soon. ((hugs))

Catherine W said...

An amazing letter. So proud that you wrote this and so very sad that you had any need to. Some of the comments that you previous doctor made are beyond insensitive. Just awful. Hopefully your eloquent letter will make him or her think twice next time.

Jessica said...

its terrible how so few doctors have a good bedside manner or even compassion for their patients. I am so sorry you had to endure this. *hugs*

Lisette said...

Mal, I am so sorry you had to go through this but I am SO PROUD of you for speaking up and writing that letter. I hope it really opens her eyes because what she said to you is so wrong.

Anonymous said...

Malory,

I am astonished to hear your story. I lost my son to SIDS almost 21 years ago. I have 4 children, my angel, and 3 more. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think, love or long to hold him. I have had many individuals in my life tell me I should be over it. I know the pain. I will live with the hole in my heart forever. I had hope however that people would change their attitude. Grief until experience I guess is not understood. I hope that you find a physician that will help you without judgement. I will hold you up and prayer. MJames

Holly said...

I am so glad you wrote this letter instead of letting it slide. But I'm terribly sorry that this letter is even warranted. You should have never been treated in such a manner

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