Monday, October 24, 2011

Truly Inspired

Though Shane passed away at UCLA, my love for that hospital and the doctors and nurses who work in pediatrics has not diminished one bit; in fact, my admiration for these wonderful doctors has only continued to grow with every interaction I have with them.

Reflecting back on those days in that hospital when Shane was under their care, I am reminded of the compassion displayed by those who tried to help him.  

On Saturday, Shane's Heart, the foundation established in his memory, was invited to attend a Fetal Cardiology Symposium at UCLA Medical Hospital.  I, who has had zero training in the medical field, had really no idea what to expect at a symposium, other than there would probably be many doctors and nurses there to listen to lectures on fetal heart screenings.  Little did I know how much this event would impact my life.

The symposium was a full-day event.  I met so many people who came up to our table to learn more about what Shane's Heart was all about.  We were even introduced to other families who have also been affected by congenital heart disease.  

The best part of the day for me, was when we were invited to sit in on the lectures.  Perhaps it is because I have so many unanswered questions regarding my own prenatal care, when I was pregnant with Shane, but I found these presentations and lectures fascinating and so educational to those who do prenatal ultrasounds.   For me, I still want to understand how such a severe case like Shane's would go undiagnosed when in my head, it seems so obvious. I've learned that it is not uncommon for cases like Shane's to go undiagnosed because only cardiologist eyes are trained to see certain defects; with that said, the procedures that the doctors were teaching at the symposium are simple enough for any doctor, or ultrasound tech to do they just have to be educated on what to look for.  Unfortunately, heart screenings are not a huge part of standard "low-risk" pregnancies and unless a doctor or ultrasound tech finds an abnormality, they will not be referred to a cardiologist (who is trained to examine the heart) for further heart screenings.   I learned so much while siting in on these lectures.  The doctors that spoke are remarkable individuals who go above and beyond the standard care of treatment, and I know this is what sets them apart for others.  Being able to listening to these doctors teach about the importance of: fetal heart screenings, the most effective techniques in doing such screenings and looking for the proper red flags, only helps me to renew my trust in prenatal care.  I have always felt fortunate for the relationships we have established with the cardiologists at UCLA, but after this weekend I am beyond thankful for doctors like them.  

Since Shane's passing, I have had a hard time stepping into a doctor's office.  I try to avoid any route that would force me to pass by the hospital where Shane was born or the medical plaza where I spent 9 months visiting while I was pregnant.  It's not that I blame anyone for what happened to Shane, but I still cannot make sense of the situation.  I am not going to get into my confusion and frustrations as they are things that I cannot change.  Please don't get me wrong as I will always appreciate my delivery nurse, the cardiologist who diagnosed him, and the NICU team who figured out that there was a problem.  There are some incredible individuals who work at that hospital and by no means would I blame any of them for my apprehension.  

But, what is ironic about this whole experience is UCLA was where Shane was taken, and that was where he died.  I have been able to go up to the floor where I saw Shane for the last time and though it brought back sadness, I wasn't apprehensive to return.  Perhaps this is because of the compassion expressed by every doctor I have met since the days Shane was there.  Every doctor who I have had the privilege of meeting at UCLA has never treated me inferior or spoke to me as if I was a little girl who just didn't understand.  They have understood every emotions I've encountered and they allowed me to just ask the question I needed to ask.  Every doctor who dealt with Shane has offered their time to sit down with us and discuss any questions we have.  We have established wonderful relationship with many of these doctors who first met Shane on September 10, 2010.  In fact the day Shane went through surgery I was introduced to a pediatric resident who works at UCLA; he happened to be off that day and he knew my aunt who also works at UCLA.  Today I feel so grateful to have met him as he as become a great friend who has helped me through the process of understanding Shane's complex case and his diagnosis while also just being a support system like many of our amazing friends have been.  The cardiologist, who was the very first doctor we met at UCLA has become a wonderful support for Mike and I, and I am so fortunate for the relationship we maintain with him.  At the symposium, I was able to listen to Shane's surgeon talk  and I was lucky to have an opportunity to just thank him for what he did for Shane. Though I have not seen or spoke to him since the day Shane went through surgery, I still reflect everyday on the interaction we had with him before surgery and after.  He and his team of doctors took the time to keep us updated throughout the entire 5 hours of surgery, an act that is not required from a surgeon but done anyways.  He got Shane through a very difficult surgery and got I am so grateful for that, and I was very glad I got to see him again this weekend.  He also offered any answers he could give me and expressed his willingness to talk with me further if I so choose.  These doctors are just incredible individuals who really stand apart from so many, not only in their work but in their interactions with their patients.

The symposium really made an impact in my life.  Listening to such incredible doctors speak about making changes in our medical world only proves that there are incredible people who strive to make a difference.  There are too many people in this world who just do their jobs simply by going through the motions, and unfortunately, sometimes those individuals overshadow those who go above and beyond.  But this weekend, I was inspired.  Not only by these lectures, but by the actions that these doctors provide for their patients.  These individuals inspire me to keep trying to make a difference in this world so that other people's lives will benefit.  I truly hope these men and women who I speak of know how much I truly appreciate them and I hope their patients know how privileged they are to have them as their doctors and nurses. It makes me realize that we often times forget to say "Thank You" for even the smallest acts of kindness and that often times we take these acts for granted and feel entitled to it.  Today, I am not only inspired but extremely thankful.  I think it's time we take a lesson from those who do what they do, who do it well; they do it without the expectation of being recognized; they just do it because these are the types of people they are and because they are passionate about what they do.  Whether it's a doctor, a teacher, a parent, friend, or boss, take the time to get inspired by their work and just say THANK YOU.  These people are truly heroes and people who I truly look up to.


Elisabeth Hirsch said...

You are amazing and inspiring. It's wonderful to see someone who sees the positive. Shane would be proud.

On 11/18 my little one would have been nine. As a tribute to him and other babies who have passed away, I'm hosting a blogfest for mothers who have lost infants or children. I would love it if you could join us and share your story.

Here's that link if you're interested:

Dana said...

Amazing! Thank you Elisa!

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