Saturday, May 21, 2016

Week 7: A Visit to the Doctor and A Visit to the Bedside of the Dying

This week saw me making two unusual visits.

The first was a visit to a new OB. After three deliveries with my OB in our old town, it was with some sighing and trepidation that I came to see a new one in our new town. It often feels like I have to convince new doctors about what I know and what I'm capable of, with both pregnancy and diabetes. There is a challenge to being "teachable" and humble before a knowledgeable professional, but also defending the lessons that one has learned over months and years of caring for oneself. Has anyone else found doctors a little "uppity" when patients give even gentle questions or feedback about the doctor's recommendations?  Or is this just a problem with me? Is it a male/female thing? Does it have something to do with endocrinology and obstetrics, or do other kinds of doctors do it too? Is this just because I've had a few children and maybe know more (or at least think I know more) than other diabetic moms do? I am weary of the need to prove that I care for myself and that I have some good ideas about how to do that.

Baby is a healthy 8 weeks and I was pleased to see that my ovulation date matched pretty closely the ultrasound measurements indicating baby's age. We saw a heartbeat and the doctor referred us to a maternal-fetal specialist for general diabetes care, which will be my diabetes reference point during pregnancy since I don't have an endocrinologist. It's not that I don't feel pretty sure of my own ability to adjust rates, but it is good to have someone to offer a different perspective on the problems you're facing. Convincing someone else that I have the ability may be an issue. I'm hoping that my CDE friend will assist in this capacity, too.

The second visit was to my grandmother, as she had been admitted to the hospital one last time at the age of 98. Following that visit her daughter, my mother, decided not to make her endure any more hospital admissions and simply place her in hospice care for whenever death may come to take her. It was an eminently sensible decision, as I had seen many hospital admissions - with their testing - become very disruptive for my elderly ancestor. Her short-term memory had been fading over the last few years, so she was unable to accurately report symptoms of pain and discomfort. She had recently lost clarity about even the most vivid of long-term memories. She forgot who many of us were. And finally, she had lost a great deal of her ability to speak and even understand verbal communications.

She was really so very childlike. It was striking to see her go through phases where she didn't want to be cleaned or have her clothes changed...just like my one year old. It invited pity to watch her try to express herself verbally, without success...just like a baby learning to speak. And just like caring for my children, it was so good for me to be with her in her final hours, to note well her weakness, her heavy breathing, her thin limbs, her lack of awareness of my presence, and to love her anyway. I visited her late on the evening of Thursday, April 21, and she died the next day.

Death consumes all of us, but life does go on. Some would say eternally. The child I have now will always remind me of the triumphant reality of life, life going on within me in spite of death around, the life of my child after the death of my grandmother. May she rest in peace!

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