This November marks a YEAR since I was diagnosed with the percreta. I’ve come such a long way and so has Banks. I’m so joyful at where we are but I have so much I have processed and want to say about everything. So, I decided to write letters. It just seemed fitting. Over the next several weeks I’ll share letters to different people along our journey.. and a few updates where we are along the way. Thank you for loving us. We made it!!
All of the things I wish I could say…
Dear Healthcare Team,
I wrote most all of you a thank you note after being discharged from the hospital. I tried to fit so many overwhelming feelings into a little card, and it just didn’t seem to be enough space. Now that I sit down to type this, it seems insufficient as well. There are so many things I wish I could say to you individually. I wish I could hug you all again. I wish we could meet up and hang out and be friends in real life. I wish I knew that you guys would always be around. That must be weird to hear from your end, being as we don’t really know each other outside of a medical professional/patient standpoint. I would think it was weird, anyway. But from where I’m sitting, you all are so much more than doctors and nurses. You’re heroes.
I didn’t know what I was getting into when I got pregnant with Banks. We weren’t trying to have a baby necessarily and the news of my pregnancy was both exciting and overwhelming. However, the news of the percreta was shattering. Not to mention a possible Down Syndrome diagnosis, gestational diabetes, anemia, a kidney stone, etc. etc. etc. I spent all of last Christmas preparing to enter the hospital. To leave my babies. To possibly raise a special needs child. To somehow come out on the other side of all of the things I faced. When I entered St. Thomas Midtown, I was overwhelmed and scared and so very lonely. And at 5 am, the morning after I was admitted, I woke up in my room and cried myself back to sleep. I wasn’t sure how my life ended up in that situation and I didn’t know how I was going to make it through it.
You know the story from there-you were all a part of it. But then came the healing. And part of the healing was leaving your care. Regular procedure on your end. Terrifying on mine.
I believe it was Ann Voskamp that once said “When you bare your skin, you bare your soul”. Surgery bares even more than skin. In other words, there is a certain level of intimacy created in total vulnerability. And I don’t know how much more vulnerable a girl can be than asleep, in need, and fully trusting of others to save her life and the life of her child-inside and out. I know that there is a “professional distance” that you have to maintain to do what you do-and in one regard-I was just another body. But it’s my only body. So forgive me if my view of you is much more esteemed than you would prefer. You simply showed up to do your job during that time. However, you saved my life by doing so.
For a long time, I couldn’t exactly separate life from life during that time. I found myself wishing I was back in the hospital even from time to time because oddly the trauma I faced almost felt comfortable. I felt cared for there. Seen. Known. Even though when I entered the hospital initially, I felt more isolated than ever before. Those first few months home, all I thought about, other than Banks, my other boys, and getting home from the NICU, was you all. How you cared for me. How you made me feel in your care. And how I didn’t deserve any of it. I wished so bad we were actual friends, and wondered when I became social media friends with many of you, if you would still think my life was one worth saving.
I’ve spent a lot of time in counseling since my procedure/Banks’ birth. Turns out, a lot of people who experience medical trauma develop deep care for their healthcare professionals so turns out I’m kind of normal (kind of). It’s a normal response, rather. And I have had to tell myself over and over that each of you, were in fact, just doing your jobs. You went to school for it. You’ve dedicated your life to it. You would’ve done it for anyone. And perhaps that makes me love each of you even more. But it also helped me stop living in the fear that one day you wouldn’t like me anymore. Or you wouldn’t remember me. Because I’ll never, ever forget you guys.
There’s a part of me that still fears that I’ll never see any of you again in person. That one day, it will be the last time. I won’t bring Banks by for hugs, or cake for the unit, or you’ll take a new job. You’ll retire. Life will move forward. And I’ll be just another case in a long line of miraculous work. And I tear up thinking of that happening. And I want you to know that I do. Because even if we never see each other again, even if I am just another body in a long line of miraculous work, I want you to know that what you do deeply matters.
I don’t know any of you super well. I don’t know your home lives-your kids names-whether or not you are football fans or prefer fancier pursuits. I don’t know if you like Italian food or what you do in your free time. You probably don’t know that I can *actually* sing classical music and I was on track to sing opera professionally. You don’t know that I love Italian food and that I prefer to be in the woods, hiking, on vacation over the beach. You don’t know I have a deep love for Billy Joel or that I have never been on a plane. We clearly-none of us-are real life friends (Except maybe Emily-Emily and I are actual friends in real life). You may not have even wanted to be at work that night or deal with my case. You may have cussed me in your head or rolled your eyes at my overly girly pink blanket and cheetah print slippers. But I think you are one of the greatest humans on earth. Because you showed up. Whether or not you wanted to, you did. And you’d do it again. For anybody.
So-for all those patients that don’t thank you for what you do, I hope this letter makes up for it a little. I hope it encourages you that what you do-where you show up-despite your feelings-it matters. I hope you realize you are a part of a miraculous line of work. One of science and mystery and magic. One where you get to work hand in hand with God, on his most prized possessions. And I hope you realize, in those little moments that you are truly just serving-no extra glamour-no extra pay-those moments when you take a few extra minutes to talk or sit on someone’s bedside-those moments when you grab a hand or give a hug-those moments when you fill a water cup with extra ice or hunt down a Diet Dr. Pepper-those moments when you wipe tears away or apologize in advance because “this is going to hurt a bit”-you’re actually speaking life into someone’s very soul. You do far more than heal the body every day you show up to work.
I also know that not all cases end as well as mine do. That what you do is incredibly difficult and incredibly exhausting. I’m not naive to the complicated issues that surround what you do day in and day out, nor the politics and business surrounding healthcare in general. You have to leave your families and go to work and deal with coworkers and bosses just like everyone else. You have to deal with the public (God bless you) at their worst and most of the time, if things go south for whatever reason, you carry the blame. But, I want you to know, at the end of the day, you are the reason some people-like me -are living.
You are the reason I get to be me. You are the reason I get to be a wife to Jon. You are the reason I get to be a mama to my babies. You are the reason I get to eat Italian food and laugh with my friends and sing showtunes annoyingly at karaoke. You are the reason I get to keep dreaming. You are the reason I get to achieve whatever I want to, when I want to. You are the reason I get more time. And there will be more like me.
So thank you. Thank you for taking the time to care for me. For showing up throughout this whole journey. Thank you for taking the few extra minutes with me. For holding my hand. For reassuring me. Thank you for bringing me medicine and for changing my sheets and for making sure my bathroom was clean. Thank you for the crucifix on the wall. Thank you for trying to be quiet when you came in to take my vitals at 2 am. Thank you for always apologizing during any kind of pain. Thank you for telling me it was going to be okay, even though you didn’t know the outcome. Thank you for hugging me. For complimenting my blanket even if you thought it was stupid. Thank you for not judging me that something totally trashy was on TV every time you entered the room OR for the fact I watched Sister Act at least 4 times. Thank you for sending me nail polish and cookies and for ensuring that my “go bag” was packed for when it came time to go to surgery. Thank you for being kind. And thank you for making me feel important. Thank you for making me feel validated. Thank you for making me feel seen. And thank you for not giving up because you were tired or wanted to go home. Thank you for giving me more time.
You are the greatest gifts in my life other than my children-my very heart. I will always cherish you and I will never, ever forget you.
Go keep making miracle girls. I hope you make so many, you lose count.
I love you to pieces-and I mean it.