When Your Doctor Unexpectedly Dies by Cara Potapshyn Meyers
Two weeks from now will be the one-year anniversary of my Lyme Disease symptoms beginning. Along with that will be the one-year anniversary of being on continuous antibiotics. I so clearly remember sitting in my doctor’s office on a cold, rainy afternoon. My doctor explained to me that my Lyme symptoms were surfacing. Then she stunned me with the news that I would be on antibiotics for four to six months (I wish). Yet through receiving all of this unpleasant news, my doctor gave me compassion, understanding, hope and determination. We bonded as a team in fighting my disease. I found out a few days ago that she unexpectedly died of a cardiac arrest. She was only sixty years old.
I feel a type of grief I can’t quite put my finger on. Any news that one of my doctors had passed would be shocking. This goes far beyond that.
I sat in this lovely doctor’s office for at least a half hour at a time and an average of once a month. We had two things in common: Our love of rescue dogs, which we both owned, and the fact that she also dealt with Lyme Disease in her past. It was the latter that made our medical bond more significant. When I told her my hands and feet felt like broken shards of glass, she understood the feeling exactly. If I told her I was experiencing “Lyme Flu,” she knew how awful that felt. She understood what “herxing” was (all over body and joint pain) and the importance of “detoxing” to relieve the “herx.” She put me on a whole regimen of detox products. My doctor completely “got” what very few doctors understand because she had the disease. She was open to new medical options I came upon. I downloaded a copy of a manual that a doctor who treats Lyme on the other side of the country wrote. She spent her free time reading it and agreed to try some of this other doctor’s suggestions. She was more than just my “doctor.” I feel so completely lost now that she is gone.
I will be seeing her partner, who is actually the head of the practice and is the one who had the medical sense to even test me for Lyme Disease when I didn’t even have any symptoms. I trust him tremendously. He “gets” my background in medical knowledge and is respectful of my desire to explore avenues that may be unorthodox, but may help. Thus he is willing to openly “work” with me. But he never had Lyme Disease. He doesn’t truly know what “stepping on shards of glass” actually feels like. He doesn’t know how frustrating it is to have to go to a Stat Med office on a weekend because a paper cut I got two weeks ago decided to explode into a nasty infection requiring (more) antibiotics both orally as well as topically. He doesn’t know what “herxing” feels like and subsequently the relief from a perfectly designed “detox” regimen provides. He is a brilliant man. But as I’ve always said to friends, “How can a male Gynocologist possibly relate to a woman who has problems with PMS, excessive cramps, bloating, cystic breasts, or hemorrhaging when he has never experienced any of it?!” The same applies with this doctor. He fully understands from a medical aspect, but has no idea what it is like to live with it. Especially after a year. More importantly, in my case, for a further undetermined amount of time.
I love this office. You know an office is well run when the employee turnover rate is practically nonexistent. There is camaraderie and pleasant banter among the employees. Every patient is treated like an actual person. You are not simply an “appointment.” You are a real person with medical needs to be attended to and are treated with the respect required. I feel safe and quite comfortable in that office. And the doctor who will be treating me is truly brilliant. I don’t underestimate his medical knowledge in any of the medical areas I will need to be treated. But I will sincerely miss my other doctor. I will miss her in every way and more.
Farewell, Dr. Paris. May God hold you close. I am certain that all of your patients will continue to grieve your loss. You touched so many. You will be sorely missed by all who knew you…