Sunday, November 7, 2010

"My Story..." Monday: Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

(If you missed the beginning of this story, you can find parts 1-5 here:

I made my way back to C's hospital room. My husband still held her in the rocking chair.

"Did you find her?" he asked.

I shook my head.

"I ran into some of the people from the NICU snack hours I used to go to. Remember those? They were really sweet, but I don't think there's anything they can do over here in Pediatrics..."

I took over the rocking of C. and we sat and waited some more. Not too much time passed before yet another doctor came in. We looked up quickly, anticipating results.


He had just come in to tell us that they wanted us to schedule an appointment with a neurosurgeon in a few months. They had spotted a cyst in C's brain and, while they weren't particularly concerned about it, they thought we should have a follow-up just to see.


"Have they read the results from the bone scan yet?"

"No. They may not get to that until Monday."

He left.

I cried. Again.

A couple minutes later, someone else was walking through our door. It was the family support coordinator, Susan.

"JessieLeigh?" she said.

I turned and saw not only her friendly face but also the face of a man I adored- the head of neonatology, Dr. L.

Susan continued, "I ran into Dr. L. in the hallway and I was telling him your story and he said he just had to come down here..."

I turned to him and he smiled, then said, "I was just wondering who I need to tell how wonderful you are."

I burst into tears again and explained that, really, we just wanted to find out the results of her tests. That, if they didn't need to do any more things, we wanted to be discharged to go home as a family. I blubbered around and asserted, as I had numerous times throughout the week, that they were welcome to nanny-cam my house or pay me surprise visits. I had nothing to hide.

Dr. L. touched my arm and, in a quiet voice, said, "I'll be right back."

Less than two minutes later, a nurse hustled into our room and declared, none too kindly, "They're filling out your discharge paperwork right now. You can start packing up if you'd like."

Immediately behind her was the doctor we had seen before Dr. L. arrived. "Um, her bone density tests were fine," he told us. "There is no sign of Brittle Bone Disease."

And right behind him? The doctor in charge of investigating suspected abuse cases. Remember her?

"Mrs. S., you and your family are free to go. We have elected to not file any report with child protective services as there is no evidence that you caused your child deliberate harm. We had to run all the tests to keep on record should we ever be questioned as to why we did not report the incident."

Okay. Did you follow all that? All those tests? They weren't necessarily done because anyone ever suspected they'd find anything... they were done so the hospital could cover their tail if it turned out I DID do something to hurt C. in the future. They needed to have the documentation that showed why they had decided I did not seem to be an abuser. While I was, of course, grateful that they realized I had not hurt my own child, I was angry that they had let us believe that they truly thought our daughter may have a terrible disease. We had fretted needlessly.

But... we were free to go. A one minute conversation with the department head of neonatology and things got moving oh-so-fast.

Have you ever heard the expression, "Speak softly and carry a big stick"? Well, Dr. L. is the embodiment of that. He is a small, slim, quiet, white-haired man. He is gentle. Kind. Humble. Understanding. And highly, highly respected. I think so very highly of him and I am blessed that that feeling is mutual.

We thanked our beloved Dr. L. and Susan. We gathered the various items that end up strewn around a room that you live in for a few days. We loaded up our baby girl in her bulky pink cast and the special car seat we would have to use to accommodate it. We drove the two hours home.

We settled in to a new "normal". It wasn't easy, juggling errands and activities with a baby in a cast... but we figured it out. It wasn't easy, doing sponge baths and changing diapers with a spica cast... but we figured it out. We figured it all out...

Until the rotovirus.

to be cont.

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