Lent 2023, Day` 4: I almost died 9 years ago.

On Tuesday, I sat with Z talking with my excellent neurologist, Dr. G. It was the first time since 2019 I had an in-person check-up. The appointment went extremely well, with Dr. G marveling at how much Z has grown since my very first appointment back in 2011 (she was 3 months old, and as it was Halloween, I dressed her as a tiger). After catching up about my mom’s passing, he mentioned how his colleague and my former hematologist, Dr. M died at the end of last year.

“I noticed he hadn’t been looking too well for a little while, and then he had a stroke,” Dr. G said while staring down at his feet. “And, well, he recovered from that, and had even returned to work. Then he flew to Europe to his vacation home and then….” he looked up at me and said, “… he died from blood clots.”

I was stunned. I mumbled out being shocked and condolences and the topic changed and the rest of the appointment went nicely. But on the way back home, I told K, who was driving about Dr. M’s death. He was quiet. It felt surreal.

“So the doctor who couldn’t be bothered to help prevent my developing deadly blood clots died of… blood clots.”

This morning, I told Z the story of my near-death experience in 2014. She knew the major points. I had a permacath in for plasmapheresis, and after feeling out of breath and lightheaded for days, I went to the ER, had a CT scan which revealed I had a blood clot lodged inside a vein perilously close to my heart. Oh, and a number in my lungs. I was admitted, forbidden from leaving bed, and wheeled directly to ICU. After ten days, a number of procedures including an angiopathy, I was sent home with injectable blood thinners and a script for many more months of an oral kind.

“Thing is, ” I told her, “none of that had to happen. My home nurse, Mel, noticed that something was wrong a full month prior. She called my hematologist- Dr. M., who oversaw the port care and my plasmapheresis therapy- and asked him to order a blood de-clotter for her to administer to clear my line. And he told her no. He told her I could wait until my next appointment in a couple of weeks. So I did. But she was really concerned that I may develop clots.”

I paused thinking back on it, “That was in January 2014, and yeah, I was in the ICU the following month. Mel called him when I was admitted and told him his negligence could cost me my life. He immediately said, ‘You got proof of that? Some paperwork I signed? Nope. Just your word.’ He then hung up on her. She was so hurt she broke down crying. I think it might’ve traumatized her a bit honestly.” I sighed.

So the doctor who couldn’t be bothered to help prevent my developing deadly blood clots died of… blood clots. He never called or emailed me during my hospital stay or after. I refused to not only go back to him, but also that hospital, making sure to see Dr. G at his other office.

I told Z that despite all of that, I don’t feel any kind of happiness or schadenfreude that Dr. M. has died by emboli. Beyond shock, I feel sad. Sad for his wife (he talked about her a lot), and all those who love him and mourn him. And sad for him. I hope in the nearly 9 years he had between his mistreatment of me and his death, he experienced real, meaningful change.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.


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