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The Compassion My Medical Team Showed Me When New Symptoms Arose

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I struggled to breathe.

My arms shook as I reached up to push the hair from my eyes. My legs, core and neck almost shattered into dust from the pure weight of stone – my head – balanced on top of them all.

My GP appointments had been piling up and the doctor and I were equally confused as to why my body was behaving so helter-skelter. Yes, I’ve had type one diabetes since the age of 9, and have picked up some extra gems along the way: fibromyalgia, neuropathy, a brain tumor (successfully removed, whoop whoop!) among others. You probably know that the symptoms of fibromyalgia alone can be hard to define and describe – kind of like nailing Jello to a wall – but as new problems arose, we couldn’t be confident that something new was not at play.

So on this particular day with my labored breathing and extreme fatigue, Dr. Breckman wasn’t willing to send me home. Concerned about heart disease from the diabetes, or the possibility of a pulmonary embolism, he concocted a plan.

I think he said something like, “We need to get you to the emergency room. Did you drive yourself here?” I may not remember his exact words, but I will never forget his actions.

I had driven to the appointment alone (I like to think of myself as independent
and strong, but in this case foolish is probably a better adjective, yes?), but even with the ER only a block away, he was having none of that. “Here’s what we’ll do,” he said. “I’ll ask Nicole to drive you over there. She can get you there faster than an ambulance and since you’re still able to walk, this makes more sense. I’ll call ahead to let them know you are coming.”

He called his office assistant Nicole into the room and explained what was happening. Then he asked if she’d be willing to help out.

“Of course I’ll take Susie over there.”

Tears dropped from my chin to the floor as I tried in vain to sniff my tears back. Was I crying from the weariness caused by my body’s torment? Or was it the wariness of the possible diagnosis?

Or… was it the compassion that could’ve burst the door open – too large to be contained in the tiny exam room. Yes, all three might have contributed, but their kindness was the largest reason for my tears. Nicole left to get her hand bag and coat, and Dr. Breckman helped me to the exam room door. As I left, he reached out his arm and gently rubbed the top of my back saying, “We’ll figure this out, Susie. I won’t give up.”

Compassion once again burst forth and flooded now the entire waiting room; my heart; my lungs. My eyes overflowed and soaked the cuffs of my sweater as I wiped again and again.

It turns out after extensive testing there was no pulmonary embolism and my heart was fine as well.

We never found anything concrete to explain my symptoms that day, but I am so thankful it happened. If ever there was proof that some doctors at least really do care for their patients, this is it. Not only a doctor, but his assistant also, went above and beyond and with no hesitation whatsoever. Maybe the unsolved diagnosis of that day is no mystery at all.

Maybe… well, could kindness be a new cure?

Getty Image via megaflopp

Originally published: July 5, 2019
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