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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

On a serious note, about Susie

My dear Readers,

I am sorry to report that Susie now needs a second surgical procedure.  Her gall bladder has to be removed.

Yesterday, Susie urgently requested Dr. Linda Schroth, her long-time GP, to move up the blood draw to check her elevated liver enzyme level, from today to yesterday.  Over the weekend, Susie had been having unpleasant GI symptoms, and was losing weight, which she feared was caused by whatever pathology was going on in her liver.  These fears had led Susie to decide, last week, to totally stop taking all pain medications.  This made it very hard for her to sleep, but at least, she hoped, if the pain meds she'd already taken in the 6 weeks since the bicycle crash, were the culprit in her liver problems, she'd gladly exchange intense physical pain for reduced harm to her liver.  As we all know, if you lose your liver, you're on dialysis for the rest of your, severely compromised, life.  Liver transplants don't grow on trees, at least not those around this part of the world.

By 4:20 p.m. yesterday, I was in Dr. Schroth's waiting room at Higganum Family Practice, talking with a woman named Anne about her 21-year-old son, David, who had been sitting there with a full back brace on, grimacing with pain written all over his face, before he, too, was ushered from the waiting room by the nurses, into the doctors' inner sanctum, for Patients Only.  I asked Anne what happened to David.  "Was he in a car accident?"  "Yes," she told me, for some reason surprised that I immediately discerned the true cause of her middle-child's distress.  "He was going 70 in a 45, hit a patch of sand, and the car hit a telephone poll and a tree."  I asked her if he had been wearing a seat belt.  Yes, he had, but still, he got 6 broken ribs, a lung puncture, and fractured vertebrae at the T1 and T2 levels, and one in the lower, Lumbar, spine.  He probably would not need surgery, his mother told me.

Then I told her everything that had happened to Susie.  "I'm so sorry she has to have surgery," Anne sympathized with me, Susie really.  "Thank you. But thank God she, and David, are alive and not in wheelchairs for the rest of their lives."

I then told her, to try to make her feel better about her son being so stupid, as 21-year-old boys, and even 61-year-old retired trial lawyers and personal injury lawyers, who should know better, sometimes are, that I learned most of what I know which is useful, to all the mistakes I ever made.  "I didn't learn much from my successes.  Just my failures.  Those are the experiences which make the difference between my being full of blarney, exclusively, and having the tiny bit of wisdom I've gained from all those dumb moves and mistakes.

After what seemed forever, Susie emerged from the Inner Sanctum.  "I've got to have my gall bladder out."  I could see on her face the relief she felt, as if a jury had just decided to spare her life after the penalty phase of a capital murder case.  "Linda [Dr. Schroth] will call Dr. Swartz's office tomorrow, to see if they can do both the gall bladder and the neck operation at the same time."  "Oh, honey, baby, I'm so relieved.  I was so worried she was going to tell you your liver was shot."  And then I moved as close to Susie as I could, without touching her, and let her move the rest of the two inches of space which now separated our bodies, towards me, lightly touching her upraised hands and touching me slightly, to let me know, by physical communication, how much she loved me and loved having me with her, every step of this medical minefield and nightmare.

Later yesterday, in the evening, I ran into Brian Dumeer's wife, Jill Fortier, who is a resident in surgery at U.Conn. Health Center.  Jill graduated last year from U.Conn. Medical School, and was high enough in her class that she was able to secure a residency program slot at the same medical center where she went to medical school.  Jill was generous with the few minutes it took her to hear about Susie's medical issues and give me some helpful information about why the gall bladder probably has been causing Susie's elevated liver enzymes.  This was right before the whole Dumeer family, our neighbors on Chimney Hill in Middletown, was leaving the Dumeer homestead to go out to dinner together.  The cast of characters included our dear friends Harry and Jody, daughter Katie and her friend from Michigan, and son Brian, a fabulous young trial lawyer now practicing in Old Saybrook with the late, great Tom Cloutier's firm, and Brian's whip-smart, talented, and  lovely wife, Jill.

Jill explained, in essence, that Susie's gall stones were probably blocking the bile duct.  As the bile then builds up, it backs up into the liver and increases the enzyme for bile to build up to a dangerous level, which is revealed by the blood samples which have been taken, regularly, from Susie for the past few weeks.
For whatever reason, God, Allah, or Mother Nature made us so that we can live without a gall bladder.  Bitter as gall as is Susie's fate, that she now must have a second surgical procedure, to remove the offending gall bladder and its obnoxious little stones, it far surpasses in goodly-ness a diagnosis that her liver is not functioning properly and its critical filtering function must be outsourced to an external dialysis machine.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

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