My Thanks to You

Thank you Dignity Health. This expression of gratitude is long overdue. Back in 2017 my world went from vertical to horizontal.  For at least two months I was bed ridden without knowing how long it was going to take to get on my feet, and back to work.

Almost 10 years ago I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a very unkind bone marrow cancer. On March 27, 2017 around 1:00 a.m. I was rushed to Marian Regional Medical Center.  There was a gradual progression of neck pain that had occurred over a period of 4 months that culminated into deteriorated vertebrae in my neck, which prevented my neck from supporting my head.

My first few days at Marian my neck had strengthened enough to allow me to move about and maintain my hygiene.  However, after a week my condition deteriorated, and I was moved to Marian Extended care and at the same time radiation treatment had begun.  It was there that I noticed a clear environmental difference between Marian Regional Medical Center, and Marian Extended care; going from my own quiet room with state-of-the-art digital life sustaining technology to a small two-person room with a curtain partition. The only technology that each of us had was a small flat screen tv, which I used to drown out the noise emanating from every part of my roommate’s body!

I associated the contrast in care from the main hospital to Extended Care. I quickly discovered how mistaken I was about that distinction.  The pain that I experienced at the time was unbearable (in hospital speak – above pain level 10). Any attempt to move me was met with great resistance.  Enter Irma Celles, a nurse in Extended Care who took the time to understand a way to minimize movement and manage my pain.  She took precautions to guard me, by informing those who took custody of me (physical therapy, occupational therapy, and transportation) about how to move me– Irma was on it.

My wife Deborah (Deb) was a wreck throughout this ordeal, although she continued to show a brave face. It all changed after the transfer, where she just couldn’t bare seeing me in that condition. She had a breakdown. The Head nurse, Sharon Ryan brought some assurance and comfort about the care I would receive and demonstrated a professionalism and competency that could only satisfy my Deb.

At about this time I was beginning to experience some humbling, embarrassing, and undignified events that caused me great anguish. It caused me to consider the word “dignity”, which was nowhere near what I was experiencing while lying in that bed. But as the nurses came in to tend to my care, change my gown and my bedding, they did it in a way that didn’t make me feel less of a person.  Finally, I understood what was meant by Dignity Health care.

For the next month and a half, I lay in my hospital bed wondering if, and how I could express my appreciation to those whose care I was in. From the guys that transported me to and from radiation appointments; to the personnel who delivered the meals, pharmacists, nurses, doctors, and my latest team of care providers at Mission Hope. “Dignity” was the expression that was impressed upon me. Deb and I will be forever grateful.

I put together this image journal of as many of my care providers (my team), as I could capture so that those who visit this page are familiar with the faces that were in my corner at the most critical period of my life.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you Dignity Health

My Thanks to Coastal Radiation Oncology

As I’ve considered the many individuals and services that have contributed to my well being, there is a team of care providers that I failed to reach out to. They were a group of people who recently came to mind.  People who (to me) worked behind their own highly technical veil, largely because of the radiation that they were administering.

Coastal Radiation Oncology is a place that for all intents and purposes with their huge radiation dispensing apparatuses could have been a very cold place, it was everything but. 

Dr.Case Ketting’s staff was on the front line of my recovery. The care they provided was a genuine reassurance of a safe and conscientious environment as is indicative of the vibrant tropical Art work along the walls, and the piped in soft music.  As I spent a good deal of my trips on a gurney I recall being treated to serene imagery on the ceiling – they thought of everything.

The two nurses who were responsible for positioning me, and delivering the radiation to the exact location, were first concerned for my comfort, and secondly, the assurance of my safety. My regret is that my engagement with Dr. Ketting and his staff was not at the level as with the rest of those at Dignity and Mission Hope.  I am grateful for the care they provided me

Dr. Nicholas Slimack Neurosurgery

The one guy that I worked very hard to get in front of my camera before I retired, but was without success. The man whose office probably thought that I was some kind of groupie stalker for surgeons. I did everything but run behind his car and pound his window.  Dr. Nicolas Slimack is the Neurosurgeon who corrected what could have otherwise been an unwelcomed confinement to a wheel chair.

Early September of 2017 in a matter of three days I began to lose the ability to raise my hands, feed myself, move my fingers, and walk.  When Graciela Ambrosio, a Mission Hope Medical Assistant happened to notice my condition, she alerted Dr. Dichmann, who then relayed it to Dr. Slimack.  The following evening I was in surgery, the day following I was able to feed myself, wiggle my fingers, and lift my hands above my head. 

Before I was rolled into surgery, I was optimistic about my recovery, even though Dr. Slimack said there is a chance that this surgery wouldn’t correct the symptoms. I was certain that I would be back to work, back to driving, possibly swinging the clubs.

He’s a great surgeon, God put Dr. Nic in my path, there is no doubt about it, and I am forever grateful.

Team Acute Rehab Thank you

Thank you, Dignity Health Acute Rehabilitation Center,

I might have forgotten names, but I have not forgotten you, After my neck surgery, a life changing event indeed, your skills and amenities were tasked with facilitating my recovery by helping me find the ends of my extremities. My fingers, besides being weak, I had lost touch with–literally.  The things that I took for granted, holding and eating utensils, buttoning my shirt, and tying my shoes had to be relearned. Getting out of bed, walking and climbing stairs, taking a shower all had to be put back into my bag of tricks.

I have observed that no one likes physical therapy, and it seems the older you are the less you want to play in their reindeer games.  I’ve also noticed that the PT’s are aware of that resistance, funny thing is they don’t care – at least mine didn’t.  I was told that I would be in their care for approximately three weeks to a month. Had she not pushed me, I would have been there for the duration, but I was only there for two weeks.

To the doctors, nurses, administrative staff, and of course the physical and occupational therapists, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Special Thanks to Dignity’s Support Services

For the past 34 years I’ve served in a support role in my previous employment.  For that reason, I have made it a point to recognize support services in businesses or organizations that I’ve frequented.  In the time that I spent at Marian Medical, from the pharmacist who came in and recommended different alternatives to pain management, the hospital Chaplin who came in to encourage me, the people who cleaned my room, served my food, and transported me around, I’ve encountered nothing but caring, courteous, and professional individuals.

I can think of a dozen places that I would like to spend my time, maybe two dozen (ehh, actually many more) before adding a hospital to that list. That being said if I had to do it again my choose would be Marian Medical center