Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Angels on Earth

I have always admired the life and work of a physician. There are few things more valuable than a good doctor. To be sure, there are some doctors that are better than others. But I have had the good fortune to experience the care of several very good ones during my life...both for myself...and for family members. At the time you desperately need their expertise and skill is when you appreciate them the most. And only then do you seem to comprehend that their commitment and dedication to helping others is such a noble use of a life.

Yesterday, these thoughts came streaming back to me as my mother underwent surgery for an intestinal disorder. The surgery was recommended and performed by a very bright and skilled surgeon named Scott Crouch. He is the type of person you would expect to be successful at whatever he chose to do with his life. Lucky for the general populous, he chose medicine. He has been clear, caring, and precise with each step along the path to diagnosing my mother's problem and recommending the treatment needed. Dr. Crouch has instilled confidence and trust in his ability to make my mother's life better since the first visit to his office.

Mom will turn 85 tomorrow. My sister and I want her remaining time with us to be enjoyable, and as healthy as possible. I have felt from day one that the doctor had this understanding of the situation and has dealt with her problem while exhibiting a level of compassion unusual for someone so young. I'm guessing, but I would say the doctor is in his early to mid 30's.

While my mother was in the operating room, another doctor came to visit my sister Bonnie, and me, in the waiting room. This doctor is a colleague in the same medical group as Dr. Crouch and was assisting with the surgery. He told us how it was going, explaining the procedure in more detail than lay people can understand. But, he made his best effort to communicate what they were accomplishing inside my mom's body. This man didn't have to be involved at all. Mom, technically, wasn't his patient. He just wanted to help. And he understood how precious our mother's well-being was to us. As it turns out, this fellow was a professor of Dr. Crouch's while he attended medical school at St. Louis University. The professor/doctor's name is Terry Wade. And he's a dear, old family friend.

Dr. Wade and I met as young boys back in the late 50's because we had relatives who were next-door neighbors. We would play impromptu games of wiffle ball...or tennis ball...or whatever we could find. Sometimes I would win...sometimes he would. Even though he was a few years younger, I always took pride in the victories because of his athletic ability and competitiveness. I'm sure those traits have served him well in his profession too. He has a well-earned reputation as one of the better surgeons in this part of the world. We've always enjoyed one another's company...but I never enjoyed his more than yesterday. We didn't ask for Terry to be with mom...he volunteered to be there. I'm sure he also knew how reassuring his face would be as he came into the waiting room yesterday. Is there really any way to thank a person like this enough? "Thank you" seems so inadequate.

Side comment: It's unbelievable to me that we have a climate so hostile to good doctors in our area. The good ones leave, just as quickly as the bad ones are sued for malpractice. Soon, a good doctor will be hard to find...and the not so good ones will be out of business... unless someone in government takes action to bring doctors a reasonable level of legal protection. I have nothing against most lawyers...just unjustified lawsuits.

The surgery went well. Mom will be uncomfortable for a few days, but should return to a very healthy and independent life very soon. Thanks to the good doctors.

No comments: