The following is a letter that I wrote and mailed to the doctor who performed Bug’s surgery. It was painful to write. It is painful to read. It was painful to mail. I am terrified of the response and hoping for a slow process, but I had to do it. I couldn’t avoid it any longer. Some portions have been removed to sustain the privacy of all involved.
January 13, 2017
Dear Dr. ____________,
I have been wanting to write to you and speak with you for quite some time. I have questions that may never be answered, but if anyone could answer them it would be you. At first, I knew I wanted to speak with you, but knew that I couldn’t. After ___________ last week, I decided I need to talk to you.
I must admit that the idea of sitting down with you makes me very anxious. I do not blame you and I am not angry with you. Since Bug’s death I have been diagnosed with PTSD and severe depression. This makes even the most simple tasks seem impossible sometimes. I want you to understand this so that you can see what I need from you. I want you to be prepared to talk to me.
When this meeting takes place, of course Ivan and I will come together, but we can not meet in your office or on the ____________ campus. It would be too painful. I also need you to understand where I am emotionally so that this meeting and conversation happens in a way that is helpful for me. I will try to explain as clearly as I can.
When we first learned of Bug’s tumor and we met with you in the PICU, you explained very clearly and very simply what you thought we were dealing with and what we will do to treat it. You had expertise and confidence. I borrowed your confidence. I was scared to even let the idea that I might lose my Bug enter my mind, so it didn’t. I had a variety of other terrible outcomes running through my head in the weeks following, but in every scenario my baby came out of that operating room. She didn’t.
When you returned my phone call, after Thanksgiving weekend, I was admittedly caught off-guard. Answering the phone in general makes me very anxious. When I saw ___________ on the caller ID, I thought it was the automated system telling me my prescriptions were in the mail. When I heard your voice, I was stunned. I was not prepared. I apologize if I seemed rude, I just had no idea what to do. I remember I managed to say that Ivan and I decided to wait to meet with you until after the pathology report came back. You said that you understood, but added that you were sure it was a papilloma. I know it was not intended, but your certainty that it was a papilloma felt cavalier and it made me flinch. I mention this because, the better you can understand where I am emotionally, the more effective our conversation will be. It is going to be very difficult for me to go to this meeting, to see you, to listen to you, and to process what you tell me.
Since I want this meeting to be as easy as it can be for all involved, _________ suggested that I give you the questions I have for you ahead of time. That way if you need to look into any information to find out the answers, you would have time to do so. Though I can’t promise that more questions won’t come up between the time you read this and the time we meet, the following list is at least a place to start.
- What happened in that operating room?
Thank you for making yourself available to us. And it meant a lot that you came to Bug’s memorial. I couldn’t talk to you then, but I want you to know that I appreciated seeing you there. I know this will not be easy for any of us. When you have had time to look this over and give it some thought, please get back to me. As I mentioned, speaking on the phone makes me very anxious. I would prefer either a letter or an email.
Thank you for your understanding,