Friday, May 22, 2009

Questions that require no answers

I stepped off the elevator and immediately spotted my escort standing across the lobby. I had been invited as a Family Faculty member to give a presentation to new hospital employees about our experiences with Caden at their facility. This would emphasize the Family-centered Care training they had been receiving all morning. I wasn't familiar with the location of this particular conference room so I had been assured that somebody would wait at the elevator to guide me to the location. Sure enough, there she was, right on time.

"Hi," I said as I approached her. Then the blur of a doctor walked hurriedly between us. It was my obstetrician. The doctor that had treated me during my high risk pregnancy based on advanced maternal age (the politically correct term for old woman), the very doctor that had delivered Caden's prenatal diagnosis, the man that stood beside me and my family as we decided to continue the pregnancy, the same man that due to his handling of all of the above I credit with saving my son's life. I hadn't seen him since hand-delivering a copy of the Gifts book to his office a couple of years ago. Yet there he was, rushing by with his white coat trailing behind him, ready to disappear through a set of automatic doors. I forgot all about the young lady waiting to lead me to my presentation.

"Dr. Awesome!" I called after him. Obviously this is not his real name but we'll go with it here. "You might not remember me...." I started but he was already smiling and extending his hand to me.

"Of course, Caden's mom. I still have his birth announcement on my desk and my autographed copy of the Gifts book. How is he doing? How's your husband and your mom?" I stammered some replies but I was struggling with my emotions. Here I was about to share our hospital stories which start with my pregnancy and Dr. Awesome and I happen to run into him. What are the odds? My pregnancy was such an emotionally overwhelming time, for me and my family, and this doctor saw us through it all. To see him unexpectedly now brought all those powerful and still raw feelings straight to the surface. It was as if he had just delivered the ultrasound findings all over again. I was prepared to share the memories with a roomful of strangers but NOT to relive them like this. I could feel the tears welling up.

Dr. Awesome asked what I was doing in this particular wing of the hospital which houses the College of Medicine. I explained the Family Faculty role in the new employee training and could see the unasked question in his face: would I be talking about my history with him? It was the same look he had given me when I handed him the Gifts book and told him the second chapter was the story of how we decided to continue the pregnancy. He finally had asked, "Well, having not read the story, how did I do?" I could barely stifle a guffaw. How did you do? Let's see, you steered the Tank and I through the darkest time we'd ever known and then handed us the best gift we've ever received. You kept us from making the biggest mistake of our lives which in effect saved Caden's life. And you're seriously asking how did you do????

The good doctor must have realized that I'd certainly be sharing this story with the new employees because he ended up not asking about it. Since he was probably off to save another life and I didn't want to be late for my talk, we kept the conversation quick. But the impact had been made and I was coming unwound. I apologized for blubbering to my escort and dabbed at my eyes as we traveled through the building. I was choked up during most of my presentation which made many in the audience tear up as well. I was an emotional wreck but hopefully it at least made my words more impressionable.

I cried again as I recalled the chance encounter with the Tank that evening. There isn't enough gratitude one could express for what this man did for my family. At each of Caden's birthday celebrations, somebody kicks off the weepiness by mentioning Dr. Awesome's name. He will forever be one of the most important people in my son's life and they haven't seen each other since the day was Caden born. I can't imagine having a job where doing something so amazing is part of the routine. I wonder if Dr. Awesome appreciates how very unroutine the experience was to us and what a significant difference he made.

I wonder too if Dr. Awesome looked at Caden's birth announcement upon his return to his desk that day. I especially wonder why he still has the announcement and what it means to him. If I actually asked him, do you think he'd nearly guffaw right back at me, "What does it mean? I had to deliver horrible news, breaking your heart and soul during your pregnancy. But after a leap of faith, I ended up delivering a beautiful boy with none of the predicted diagnoses except an extra chromosome. And you ask what does it mean?" I don't know why Dr. Awesome holds on to Caden's announcement but the fact that he does is answer enough.


Loren Stow said...

Wow - what an awesome story! From what I've heard, Dr. Awesome is certainly one an awesome few! What an honour to have had him in your life and bring Caden into the world!
The fact that he still keeps Caden's birth announcement - well, he has obviously been as touched by Caden as you have been by him (does that make sense?).
It's nice to read something so positive and by the by - well done for speaking about Caden to a room full of strangers - it is not easy and yet it is so important!

Kristi Mantoni said...

I love Dr. Awesome!!! I'm all teary now! Got go blow my nose.