Saturday, August 26, 2017


One day, not too long ago, right after lunch, I rolled my sweet, innocent bride into the living room. I sat down and turned her wheel chair to face me so we could talk, have a chat, have some quality one on one time without the television as a distraction.  I was being purposeful, intentional, really cool.

I gently turned Marty around, she slowly looked up, looking a little sleepy, looked straight at me and said, “Bastard”.

Obviously, well maybe it’s not that obvious to you; I was surprised at the pejorative.    
I was incredulous, I looked at her, registered the word and came back with a brilliant rejoinder, “What”?

“Bastard” she says again, hitting all of the consonants and drawing out the word just enough to make sure I understood.

I’m sitting there looking at this sweet woman, she of the broken brain, the person who now laughs when she should cry, the person when asked a question often looks at me, this lovely woman, my bride of 40+ years and she says it again, “Bastard”.  

And then she smiles, a knowing smile, a smile that says, “Yeah that’s right, I called you a bastard, bastard”.

I asked her what exactly brought that on and she just smiled like she was glad she had purged herself of the word, the feeling, the anger, the laughter.   I don’t know where it came from and neither did she.   More importantly she didn’t care, she sat there, self satisfied and clearly cleansed of something in the past.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can be, have been and will be a bastard.  I don’t mean in the literal sense, my heritage is not like Jon Snows or Gendrys of Game of Thrones, both of my parents claim me, most of the time.  

To be completely honest and lord knows if we are talking about being a bastard I want to be completely honest, on odd occasions I can be a bastard as in a jack ass.  I know it, Marty knows it and my kids know it.  I have at times deserved the term, but not within the days immediately preceding this particular event.

Marty still has some of her anger, some of her emotions stuck in the past.  She doesn’t really register anger or hurt or frustration anymore, unless you really are tuned into her.  I know those feelings can be there because we have talked about them before, I know that there is stuff that happened before the strokes that still create some feelings for her.  Some of those feelings are good, some not so much. 

For the most part Marty has a hard time connecting how she feels about some of those long ago felt emotions, but they are there, kind of unexplained feelings.   It’s kind of like having a bruise and you’re not sure where it came from, you just know it’s sore when you touch it. 

The real lesson here is it’s a good idea to get over some of your petty grievances now, today, right now because you never know when that irritation, that anger will get stuck inside you for the rest of your life. All of us have a very tenuous hold on the here and now and it takes a microscopic something to break and all of the sudden that irritation, that grievance becomes branded into your psyche forever.  

Whatever it was I did either the day before or the decade before Marty doesn’t remember the details, she does remember the feeling, the emotion and that came out as, “bastard”.  Like so many things these days it passed and she mostly thought the whole thing was funny.

Me, I don’t care if she calls me a name.  Fact is I kind of like that she still occasionally gets mad at me, that she occasionally has the fire in her to feel anger even if it is a ten year old fire.  I married a fiery woman, I knew she had a temper when we married 41 years ago, its part of why if fell in the love with her.  It’s part of why I still love her.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Great and Wise Got Broke

Marty’s doctor, Great and Wise, our medical Sherpa, our entrĂ©e to all things medical, our health security blanket is broken, at least temporarily.  We don’t like it not one itty bitty bit.  He’s kind of important to Marty’s health and my sanity.

This man got sick, he will recover, and I am certain it roiled the medical community in little ol Waco.  I know it caught his 1000 or 5000 or so patients by surprise when he posted on face book that he had experienced a heart attack.  

This is the guy who has sat by the bed of so many who were sick and afraid, who has been with people at their very best moments and their very worst.  This is the guy who has held hands with people as they have let go of life and been there when life started for some. 

He’s not supposed to break, ever.  I guess supposed to has nothing to do with real life.
Marty and Great and Wise go way back.  She first came to know him when she was working in conjunction with an indigent care organization in Waco called the Family Practice Center.  Marty was training academic physicians to be better teachers and Great and Wise was learning to be a really great doctor.  She always, always talked about his compassion.

When he set up a local family practice office Marty was looking for a physician with the kind of smarts, compassion and concern that Great and Wish had, the rest is history.  Having G and W as her family doctor when she had her strokes is the single best thing we had going for us.  

I didn’t know at the time what a big deal it was that he was Marty’s doctor, I didn’t realize exactly how important he would be to us, I do now.  I remember when Marty was in Dallas in rehab and she was and medically she was having a difficult time.  The third time she was hospitalized for pneumonia I decided it was time to punt.  I searched through Marty’s phone book and called Great and Wise one Saturday afternoon and asked if he could bring us back to Waco.  The next day we waved to Dallas in our rear view mirror.  He saved my sanity that day.

When you have a chronic medical issue, when you are the brittle patient Marty is there are things you discover you need in a physician.  You really need someone who is available, someone you can contact, someone who directs their clinic to get you in when you need to get in and see the doctor. 
You have to have someone who listens, who takes the time to hear what you have to say and actually hears what you are saying and takes it into consideration in developing a treatment plan.

 And what I never really understood, what seems at first glance inconsequential is you really need continuity of care.  You need a doctor who knows you, who knows all of the ins and outs of what ails you and those things that don’t ail you.  You need a doctor who guides the other docs you have to see, you need a doctor who follows your hospitalization and knows your care routine well enough to know when you need to be in the hospital and when you don’t.  

Great and Wise does all of these things for Marty and for me plus some other great stuff, like creating trust.  Great and Wise insists that his people, the nurses, the front office staff, the back office folks all do the same, all practice the same patient centered caring medicine.  All of them make a hard life better.

I can remember talking to Toni, one of Great and Wise’s past nurses, sitting in the office waiting for the good doctor and telling Toni, “I don’t know if Marty really needs to see Great and Wise, I think this visit is for me.”  She patted me on the back and said that’s okay, that’s the way our office works.  Not once, not one time have I ever felt stupid for calling or going in.  Not once has anyone in his office ever made me feel guilty for worrying about my wife.

I suspect Great and Wise will be getting back to his great and wise self in the next few weeks.  He initially indicated a four to ten week recovery period and then some nonsense about four weeks.   My guess is Mrs. Great and Wise will have something to say about the whole re-entry thing.  

Our goal here is for Marty to be immaculately healthy for the next ten weeks because a sick Marty and a sick Great and Wise is bad for Marty’s Husband.   Our world needs doctors like this man to be a happy, healthy and strong Great and Wise.  

At this point our doctor, our friend, our overall good guy needs to, for once, put himself first and foremost.  He needs to take the time and space to recover.  We want him back, we need him back in our corner, but mostly, mostly we need our friend well.