This I Believe

Bess - SAN FRANCISCO, California
Entered on November 14, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe in the University of California at San Francisco Hospital. It is a large institution with mediocre patient food on its best days but the doctors and nurses are there for only one reason – to save lives and during the past thirteen years, and most recently, the past month, I’ve watched them care for my elderly parents and perform what seems to be from a non-medical perspective, miracles. I believe that if it is possible to save a life, they will. We are fortunate to have them in our community and this is my thank you.

Less than four weeks ago, my father caught a viral respiratory infection which resulted in congestive heart failure. He was admitted on a Thursday and that Friday morning he experienced a flash pulmonary edema which basically means that his heart wasn’t strong enough to pump the fluid out of his lungs. Quick action by his nurse and resident stopped this downward trend and on Monday he came home. Four days later, my dad turned 90 and he is only waiting for the OK from the visiting nurse, physical therapist and social worker from UCSF home care to resume his totally independent life. I should also mention it was a UCSF doctor that diagnosed a clogged carotid artery six and a half years ago when he was scheduled for a hip replacement after a fall. The artery was cleaned out and a week later, the hip was replaced; all without general anesthesia. A month after the hip replacement, my dad fully participated in my eldest daughter’s Bat Mitzvah.

My mother’s health history is more complicated and more serious. Nine years younger than my dad and suffering from Type II diabetes and high blood pressure, she required a quadruple bypass twelve and a half years ago after two heart attacks. The surgeon stitched her up and two months later, we celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. Recently, she caught the same viral infection as my dad and also experienced congestive heart failure. The tests in the emergency room showed that a mild heart attack occurred, however, she was not a candidate for an immediate catheterization to determine the extent of any heart damage or which artery may be blocked because the fluid in her lungs wouldn’t allow her to lie flat. I watched in awe as the founder and director of the echocardiography lab improvised the most benign stress test to locate the clogged artery. After twelve days in the hospital and with lungs now free of fluid, an angioplasty was performed and a stent was placed in one of the bypassed arteries. The next day, she went home.

I believe in Dr. Blum, Dr. Shah, Dr. Patel, Dr. Boyle, Dr. Pearson, Dr. Schiller, Dr. Ports and the nurses, Miele, Molly, Elise, Rose, Jack, Mary. I know I’ve forgotten the names of many more doctors and nurses in the emergency room, at the catheterization lab and on the 10th and 14th floors. Please forgive me. I believe in you, too.