Do you Believe in Miracles? Recently I have been helping a friend who was diagnosed with Stage Four Lung Cancer earlier in the year. She has had a rough time as the chemo has left her debilitated to the point that she has been admitted four times during the five rounds of chemo. My role as her friend has been to support and help her understand what is going on. I have also tried to improve communication between the doctors, her, and her two adult children.
During my friend’s most recent hospital stay in which she was admitted with dehydration and to rule out sepsis, she got some devastating news.
During the stay, she had several tests to try to find the cause. Several doctors came to see her. Each day I would call to see how she was doing. Each day I would hear ‘not good’. She would try to tell me what the Infectious Disease doctor said, what the Oncologist said, what the Hospitalist said. She would not remember much of the conversations and felt frustrated because she did not know what was happening. I tried to call the various doctors and the case manager, but the only person to call me back was the social worker and he did not know much of what was going on as he had so many patients and was not able to be in the room when the doctors made rounds.
One day went into the next. Then one morning the Oncologist came in and told my friend she has a condition called HLH and this was very serious. The doctor said he did not think she would tolerate the treatment as it was worse than the chemo she had taken for her lung cancer so he was not optimistic.
She called me after getting this news and was terrified. As I listened to my friend and what she was telling me, I was shocked that she was given this information with no family to hear what the doctor was telling her or to ask any questions. I got off the phone and called her daughter, who lived out of town. She has talked to her mother and was just as confused as I was. I said, let me try to get the doctor to have a call with us to understand what was going on.
The doctor had told my friend he would be in to see her the next day around 10 am. To better understand what was going on, I suggested that when the doctor came in, I would get her children on the phone so we could all listen to what he had to say as to the plan of care and prognosis. My friend was grateful as she was scared and worried.
The next day at 9:00 am, I called everyone to make sure I had the correct numbers. We were ready by 9:30 am. 10:00 am came and went, noon passed. At 1:30 pm, I called the nurse caring for the patient. She said that her doctor had not been in yet. I called the office and talk to his nurse. She said the doctor told her he was going to the hospital in the morning and was surprised he was not there yet. She said to continue to wait as he will be there. We waited for another two hours. Everyone was on pins and needles waiting for the doctor.
Finally, I called his nurse back, and she said she would page the doctor and find out where he was. She called me back at 3:30 pm and said he was on his way. At 5:30 pm, we still had not heard from the doctor. Finally, at 7 pm, he came onto the floor, and the nurse came into my friend’s room to tell her that the doctor was on the floor and to call her family. My friend called me and I got everyone connected and we waited another 30 minutes for the doctor to come into the room.
Once there, he explained his findings, what he thought and what he wanted to do. He took questions from the family and my friend. After the doctor left, we were all exhausted, sad, scared, and unsure what the future would hold. I was so angry at the way things turned out. As a nurse, I was embarrassed by how we were all treated. I understand doctors are busy, but It would have been common courtesy for the doctor to call and say he was running late. We all would have understood. It was just wrong.
Over the next few days, treatment was started and my friend seemed to progress despite the terrible diagnosis. The doctor seemed somewhat confused as the patient was getting better, which was not how the HLH usually behaved. Finally, on a Friday, the doctor said that my friend could go home! She was shocked at the news as the doctor said he did not want her to go home as she needed to get this therapy and with COVID 19 raging, he was afraid he would not be able to get her readmitted. But because she was doing better, he said he would try to give her the treatment she needed as an outpatient. He said he was cautiously optimistic as the patient was feeling better, and her numbers were going in the right direction. She was ecstatic.
Hearing this news, I thought it was a miracle. My friend was doing better and could go home!! The doctor was going to order home care and PT. Her daughter had arrived from out of town and had quarantined the required number of days, so the patient was safe to go home to her own house. All good news.
The plan was to see her Oncologist in a few days in the clinic. He planned to start the treatment that day as an outpatient if she continues to progress.
This experience taught me that we should never give up but to have faith and believe that miracles can happen.
We don’t know the rest of the story yet, but we are praying things continue to go well. Please keep my friend in your prayers – she still has a long way to go.
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Have a good week!