Today I woke up, made my wonderful hubby some breakfast (Eggies in a basket😊), and headed out for my second-to-last day of my surgical rotation.
We did a colonoscopy, a rectal exam, an egd, and counseled some patients on post op care, and I presented my reports on appendicitis and colon cancer to my surgeon.
One event of this seemingly “normal” day stuck with me.
A woman we saw was at the end of her rope. She had run out of all hope after seeing numerous doctors along with PAs, NPs, and a smattering of other health professionals. No one had resolved her problem. She had a ventral hernia repair 10 years ago that had become infected due to poor wound closure (at the fault of the physician), and had had complications since then-including numerous surgeries and an abdominal wall reconstruction by a plastic surgeon. She was now presenting with massive ascites (we’re talking MASSIVE: 50+ pounds of fluid) that was causing more small hernias and leakage of serous fluid from her five or six fistulas that had formed secondary to her thin skin and the manipulation her abdomen had been through (they removed muscle, fascia, and basically all of the layers of her abdominal wall during her reconstruction so now she’s left with a thin layer of skin).
This may seem like nothing more than an interesting medical case for a surgeon to see. But when I really stopped to analyze the situation I realized how amazing the human side of it was. Someone else was in the room. Her husband of 40+ years dressed all of her wounds multiple times a day. He told us he refused to hire a home health service, insisting that on top of his full-time job, he would provide better care for her than anyone else possibly could. In his words, there is no one else who cares for her as much as he. Isn’t that why he walked her down the aisle and married her all those years ago? He went on to say that sure, she was 98 lbs when they met and married, and now she is overweight and emotionally and physically fragile shell of that person she used to be. But he has never stopped loving her or taking care of her because he vowed to. And she would do the same for him.
Now, I don’t know about you, but on today, the second anniversary of our incredible wedding, that just about had me in tears! All I can say in response is that we can all only hope to share a love that deep and profound, that against all odds and literally in sickness and in health, will care for us day in and day out, no matter the circumstance. We can all only hope that a love like that is ours and that the person to whom we say “I do” will care for us with that much selfless love.
On my anniversary, I hope I am that grounding force of love for my own husband. Happy anniversary to my wonderful David, and a special thank you to all of the patients out there reminding us medical professionals what it means to be loving humans in this wonderful and sometimes challenging adventure called “life.”