Friday, June 12, 2009

Releasing the Albatross

As I have posted in the past, I have been blessed for eight years with a remarkable GI, Dr. Hank, who specializes in Crohn's Disease.

For eight years, Dr. Hank has been there for me.

I have Dr. Hank's cell phone number.

Dr. Hank calls me in the middle of the night with test results.

Dr. Hank has asked me to assist him in launching a local chapter of CCFA (the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America).

I believe that Dr. Hank had a big part in the miracle conception of our two babies, as it is difficult if not impossible for Crohn's patients to conceive. Yes, I know God was the primary miracle provider, but God also enabled Dr. Hank with skills and knowledge.

Dr. Hank has pictures of those two miracle babies in his office.

To say that Dr. Hank has been an important and integral part of our lives over the past eight years is one of the biggest understatements I could ever make.

But in the past 60 days, after much prayerful consideration, after a period of agony and thoughts of suicide, and many, many, many lengthy discussions with Billy, Billy and I have decided that it is time to move on.

I am leaving my comfort zone of Dr. Hank, and getting a new gastroenterologist.

Specifically, I will be getting a whole TEAM of gastroenterologists.

I was 90% sure of my decision before I had my Remicade treatment two weeks ago.

But Dr. Hank himself made the final decision for me.

When the nurses called Dr. Hank to tell him the severity of my reaction to the Remicade, he eventually wandered over to the infusion lab.

As Dr. Hank walked in the door, this is how he greeted me:

"Well.....if it isn't my ALBATROSS."

Friends, I know what albatross means - "most legendary of all birds".

But let me illustrate for you what Dr. Hank's statement really meant to me:

According to Wikipedia, Charles Baudelaire said it best in a poem, using albatross as a metaphor for someone with a burden or an obstacle, that they have,

"an albatross around their neck"

Well, Dr. Hank. I am your obstacle, your burden, your ALBATROSS, no more.

If I had become such an obstacle, such a burden, such an ALBATROSS, all you had to do was tell me.

If you were as professional as I thought you were, you would have said to me, "I can no longer help you, but I can help you to find someone who can."

But he didn't.

Dr. Hank said, "You are going to have pain. You're going to have to live with it. Accept it."

To which Heather Fallon replied, "BULLSHIT. UNACCEPTABLE."

Dr. Hank's next words to me were, "There is NOTHING more that can be done for you."

To which Heather Fallon replied, "Nobody backs FALLON into a corner. Nobody."

The Albatross has been released.

The Albatross has found someone who not only BELIEVES I can be helped, but is EXCITED about helping me.

The Albatross' new doctor insists that I need to be consulted at UF/Shands Hospital in Gainesville, where the Southeastern Center for Inflammatory Bowel Disease is located.

The Albatross' new doctor believes that now that my disease has spread to my entire digestive system (yep, stem to stern), that I need to be seen by clinical researchers who are involved with cutting edge, up to the second, research on Crohn's Disease, in particular, the rarest of all versions of Crohn's Disease - duodenal Crohn's Disease.

The Albatross' new doctor says that there are approximately 250 people (yes, TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY) people in the UNIVERSE with Crohn's Disease in the state that mine is now in.

The Albatross' new doctor thinks that Dr. Hank is a wonderful physician. But he also believes that Dr. Hank may not have ever seen someone with my disease in the state that it has evolved to, and he is having difficulty accepting that he personally cannot help me, and that I shouldn't be angry or disappointed, but that I should be thankful for the eight years that he gave me, and that Dr. Hank should understand and respect my decision to do all that I need to do to elongate my own life.

The Albatross is in complete agreement. I am so very thankful for Dr. Hank. I will cherish his involvement in my care for the rest of my days. I will remember him, honor him, and recommend him. I am no longer angry, no longer disappointed. I have given it up to God, and God has gifted me with the grace to forgive Dr. Hank for his professional shortcomings. Dr. Hank and I have different faiths, but we share the same God. Dr. Hank has prayed for me. He has told me so. I cannot harbor anger towards a man who has prayed for me, cared for me, healed me. I love him still, and I forgive him.

The Albatross' new doctor has a whole new perspective on the management of my illness.

The Albatross and her new doctor AGREE and have already established a COMMUNAL relationship, not one in which the doctor drives the boat, but one in which the patient and the doctor WORK TOGETHER to keep the patient ALIVE as long as possible, to keep the patient as COMFORTABLE as possible, to keep the patient OUT OF THE HOSPITAL as much as possible, to keep the patient AWAY FROM A SCALPEL for as long as possible.

The Albatross is no more.

The battle continues.

Heather Fallon is back.

Bring it, Crohn's Disease.

Bring it.

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