January 12, 2011 – Doctor’s make mistakes

“He who learns must suffer.
And even in our sleep,
pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart,
and in our own despair,
against our will,
comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” Aeschylus

The comment I didn’t send to the Huffington Post

I just finished watching the Brian Goldman’s video on Ted weekends – Dr. Brian Goldman: Doctors make mistakes. Can we talk about that? {this opens in a separate tab and is approx 18mins long. I didn’t include the video because I think if you’re interested you should see it in context}. I was in tears at the end. Why? Because my partner just recently died of Pancreatic Cancer. Over the last few weeks since he passed away I’ve decided to start a blog where I occasionally include my hard-copy journal entries from the last 2 years. Then I came upon this one, dated January 12 2011 ….”Tim is maybe hypoglycemic? Sweats, flush, face & lips pale, dizzy, weak feeling, mouth dry.” At the time he also had been having these horrible abdominal cramps since December of 2010. It makes me shake to even write those words down. He was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer mid-September of 2011. He had to turn yellow before anyone clued in. Someone didn’t do their job. Someone missed it on the scan done in April 2011 even. All I’ve ever wanted is for something GOOD to come of all this. The damage is done. Lets move on. BUT, can we not learn something from this?

So I say…. Woot Woot to the HuffPost

Taken early January 2011 – playing with some of my Canon Powershot S5IS features.

SO why didn’t I send it. First off, my Mac is almost 5 years old and therefore alot of these sites use certain features that my old Mac OS doesn’t like. Every time I tried to get the HuffPost account setup thingy to “send” my account info to their servers it would just hang there. I must have tried it 7 or 8 different times before I gave up. Wasn’t meant to be, I figured.

Now, by the next day everything was working all hunky-dorry, logged me automatically, bing bang boom. It had at some point actually setup my account. I saved the comment in a text file and called it a night. Call it what you will, but maybe it was good I didn’t post the comment. I don’t know, or maybe I just lost my nerve.

What if? What if I’d known what I do today? If we’d known in January? What if someone had gone “aha, that sounds like your pancreas”, would the outcome have been different? Would he be alive today? I’d used my handy “Prescription for Natural Healing” to diagnose the symptoms he had been having. I read all about insulin production, and the role the pancreas plays. I didn’t know then that the alkalinity levels in his stomach was another early sign. Of course, he’s the patient, I’m the companion…its not my job to know these things. It was his Doctors job.

January 2011 – More playing with Canon S5IS – color switch feature. I call this one “Irish on toasted Marshmellows”

These thoughts are not helpful, and in between bouts of crying yesterday, I regretted ever picking up that dang journal and reading those words, that date. This mistake cut Tim’s life short, and in the last months of his life it ate away at him. I’m so thankful for the whole CCAC team we had those last months. It was one of their social workers that he finally broke down with and told her everything he had been feeling. The rage, the agony of knowing you’re going to die and someone out there might have been able to change that. I left the room, I felt tight in the chest, I was at the verge of an anxiety attack. I knew how angry and hurt he was. It made him feel small and insignificant. He needed to talk about this with someone, not just me. She was fantastic. This was going to be the last time we saw her, since she the next day went on her Mat Leave. I know his talk with her helped him. He needed to hear from someone else that it was not healthy to spend his last days so angry and hurt. It was a waste of the time he had left.

So there it is. How do I feel today about all this? Well, like I said in my comment, I just want change. I want Doctors to talk, to share ALL their knowledge. Pancreatic Cancer is deadly, but so little research has been done that few doctors know the signs. That is fundamentally wrong. I diagnosed that there was a problem with his pancreas back in January, I just hadn’t known it then. I didn’t have access to the internet then at the cottage. Maybe if. Well. Enough of that.

PHEW! There’s one hurtle met. I know there will be others. Yet,  I think its important for me to be writing this all out. I don’t want it to eat away at me inside. Writing is my therapy.

Next: The Mount  |  Thameswood Part One + Part Two  | “To Thine Ownself be True” |  SEE ALSO: Suitcase for Memories


  1. Linda Mossip

    We do expect so much from our doctors. But they do make mistakes and those mistakes cost lives. You cannot change what happened to Tim but you can make others aware of what happened and in turn, help others. Please continue to write. You have a gift. “Honour your grief” – it may be a strange thing to say. To honour your grief does not mean that you will like or enjoy this painful experience. It means, instead, that you value what you have lost, you value your reactions to that loss because you understand them for what they are, and in these ways you value life itself. It is unlikely that you will ever”get back to normal” or return to your former way of living. However, you can work to develop new ideas of “normal” and new ways of living that will help you to go forward. Remind yourself that developing a life without Tim is what he would have wanted you to do. and I love that you are “like a tea towel in the wind”…


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