Monday, December 21, 2009

Our Family Christmas Letter

Hello and greetings to all. The following is as close as I'll get to that "Family Christmas Letter." We thank you for your support. It's been a busy year.

My medical practice, Queen Anne Medical Associates PLLC, deserves a Resilience Medal!

We started February with Steve's kidney transplant, which was complicated by three heart attacks, and two additional surgeries including the eventual removal of his living donor kidney. We will be forever humbled by the gift of Teresa Duffin: giving a kidney to Steve and saying with all sincerity that "I'd do it again if I could." Steve's recovery has been quite protracted, with five months on a "Wound Vac," an ingenious device used to assist in wound healing. He's doing well in Cardiac Rehab, though, and we are actively working on our next strategy. He continues, of course, on hemodialysis; we are thankful that we are able to do these treatments at home!

The same week that Steve received his transplant, our wonderful Nurse Practitioner Terri was stricken with a particularly virulent pneumonia, landing her in the ICU. For weeks, we really weren't sure who would survive: Steve or Terri. And what a contrast: Terri, the healthiest and most physically fit woman I've ever known -  and Steve, plagued for years with health challenges. What a relief that they both made it through; we expect Terri back at the practice after flu season.

But that wasn't all. Barb, our Office Manager and my "Right Hand Person", broke her leg. Brian, our exceptional Medical Assistant, fractured a bone in his face in a ski accident and required surgery. Around that same time, Snow - one of our other excellent Medical Assistants and Marathon runner, fell and broke teeth! Two of our Nurse Practitioners experienced the death of a parent. And another Nurse Practitioner's husband had a coronary stent placed!

With Terri's absence and with my longer-than-expected time away from the practice, we barely made it through the year. We were beginning to feel we were "The Story of Job Medical Practice!" But we did make it. I am enormously grateful to our staff of ten wonderful, good-hearted co-workers. It is clear to me that we made it through because of the staff we have!

And every single day, we are reminded why we are there. In this time of so much uncertainty, we are fortunate to have work, period. But we are especially fortunate to have work where we truly have the capacity to make a difference in peoples' lives.

Today, for example, I saw five kids I delivered, and another woman I've followed for over twenty-two years: delivering her daughter's two babies - and generally following along in the rich story of her life. I saw another patient whose breast cancer was found many years ago. She made it through, with greater resilience than ever. We ended the day with an excited young patient who begins on the journey of gender transition in another week or so.

Our practice is richly textured in human experience. We have been honored to have been present, and - we hope - to have been of service to our clients.And it has been gratifying to see how many of my patients care - truly care - about Steve. One had her blood drawn today, to learn her blood type to see if she might be a potential kidney transplant donor! Can you imagine?

On a personal note, our kids: Tim and Brita (thirty-three and fourteen, respectively) are moving through their lives with humor and goodwill. Steve and I love them both - and like them, too! For my part, I've been writing, commuting, exercising less than I'd like - but still at it.

So, it's been a high mileage year. We are all hoping for a smoother, "medically boring" 2010. But we celebrate our resilience, and understanding of our human condition, and the love and commitment that join us.

Best wishes for the Holiday Season and a Healthier New Year.
Take care. Linda Gromko, MD

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