Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Joy Tempered by Sadness

There's a very old joke about the definition of joy mixed with sadness: It's watching your mother-in-law drive off a cliff in your brand new Cadillac. 

Sometimes life mixes joy and sadness in the cruelest of ways.

On call in the delivery room. The senior OB/GYN gave me the heads up on a parturient that we would be seeing later.  The young woman presented to the OB department in labor in her first pregnancy.  The admitting doctor noticed a swelling in her neck that she had never noticed. After the relevant tests and consultations she was diagnosed with lymphoma. Her chest film looked similar to this one:

She decided to proceed with a vaginal delivery.  At one point she requested an epidural but upon reexamination she had progressed quickly and was about to give birth, so the epidural was not necessary. After giving birth she was brought to the OR for a retained placenta and to suture some tears in the birth canal. I decided on a spinal anesthetic in order to avoid intubating and ventilating (even though there were no clinical signs of respiratory compromise). The procedure went well. 

During the entire time there was something unsaid in the air. We knew and she knew. We knew that she knew and she knew that we knew.  But no one mentioned the ogre in the room.  I brought her to recovery (I had briefed the nurse there before we started the procedure) and presented her to the nurse. I conveyed my congratulations and wished her: 
רק בשמחות
Which is a short version of the wish to meet only at joyous occasions.
To which she replied, "Amen".


rutimizrachi said...

I often think about how the lives of the medically-trained are harder than those of just-plain-folks. Because you KNOW. The rest of us can hope more easily.

It must be even harder for those without the wisdom of hoping in Hashem.

The fact that you personally have prayer and awe for Hashem must help a little bit, because you really do know that miracles can happen.

May this new mommy have all the miracles she needs.

rlbates said...

What rutimizrachi said: May this new mommy have all the miracles she needs.

SeaSpray said...

I also agree with Rutimizrachi and Ramona.

My closest and lifelong friend since I was 4 and she was 5 (51 years this month) was recently diagnosed with nsclc and she never smoked a day in her life and lived healthy. She is stage IV and only recently found out. I know what medicine says ..the doctor's report ..but ..I believe G-d is bigger and as long as there is breath ..there is hope and the possibility of a miracle ..either through medicine or directly from above.

I think it is beautiful that you prayed.

Anonymous said...

What a heart breaking story. Is it Hodgekins or non-H. I wonder if there has been progress in treatments since 10 years ego. Just thought about Jonathan.

Actually my old eyes got used to the green-on-white.

Anonymous said...

A sad story. Hope she gets the support and treatments she needs.

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