News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Breaking News

Opinion

July 24, 2011

STEPHANIE SALTER: Thousands of things she would have missed

TERRE HAUTE — For several years, until she received an official information packet in the mail, my mother planned to donate her body to medical research. Indiana University changed her mind by including in the packet a form letter that also solicited money.

Mom was dumbfounded and not a little offended. Talk about ingratitude — and bad manners. “Forget it,” she said, and she did.

After that, however, right up to the last couple of weeks of her life, I kept reminding Mom that, in many ways, she already had donated her body to medical science. From her first cancer diagnosis in 1993, through dozens of surgeries, procedures, treatments and therapies, the field of medicine — and its practitioners — learned much from my mother’s flesh, blood, bones and organs.

Mom was a poster girl for early detection, diagnosis, treatment and disease management. Many of the illnesses she developed during the last two decades of her 81 years are the serious kind everyone fears. Any of them could have taken her out, but didn’t. All, except the final challenger, a stroke, were slowed down or cured. Mom was a walking, talking contradiction to people who “hate” doctors and expect nothing from health care professionals but mistakes and failure.

A Depression-era, lifelong Hoosier, Mom also was one tough hombre. No matter what sort of punch the fates and her DNA landed, she kept getting up from the canvas and resuming the fight. Ovarian cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, multiple skin cancers, atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, osteoporosis (and a broken back from it), elevated blood sugar, arthritis, cataracts.

“You name it, I’ve got it,” she often said, during pre-examination interviews. To her family and friends, she usually added, “I don’t know why God is keeping me alive.”

Maybe God has a special fondness for medical professionals. My mother deeply respected those who came her way and — 95 times out of 100 — that admiration and her willingness to cooperate in their plans for healing or treatment brought out the best in each of them. From a cardiac sonographer she might meet once, to the primary care physician who treated her as if she were aristocracy instead of a Medicare recipient with supplemental insurance, Mom continually inspired kindness, good humor, dedication and, often, awe in her health care team members.

My theory: Because Mom looked at each doctor, nurse, P.A., lab tech, therapist and pharmacist as an intensely unique individual, each responded to her as something more than another set of symptoms. She noticed their shoe and tie preferences, family photos on their desks and any new haircut. She asked about their kids and grandkids, their husbands’ employment woes, their efforts to take off weight or to finish their master’s degree.

She loved to make a doctor laugh and usually ended an appointment by demanding a hug, even if it meant elbowing her way down an office hall to catch the doc before he or she disappeared into another examination room. She brought lilacs each spring to the women who regularly drew her blood and offered good and plentiful marriage counseling to more than a few critical care nurses while they changed her IVs.

Most of the people who treated Mom after her June 15 stroke recognized her special steel. She worked hard in Union Hospital’s rehab unit, despite right-side paralysis, the loss of intelligible speech beyond a few words and the crystal clear understanding that her long-dreaded nightmare had come true, even with years of blood thinners. She told my sister and me she did not expect rehab to work, but she would try it for us, her grandkids and extended family.

A couple of infections that took hold during the long Fourth of July weekend halted rehab and put Mom back in the acute care wing of the hospital, where, for a short time, the goal was the customary “cure,” not “comfort.” As usual, the nurses who tended to her were stellar. One of them even maneuvered protocol and equipment so Mom could listen via fetal monitor to her great-granddaughter’s heartbeat, well ahead of the baby’s October due date.

Another nurse, Lisa Mize, pretty much represented the face of medical care in which Mom always believed. Just a few years into the profession, Lisa had left a job in electronics after scrimping and saving to go to nursing college. She told my sister and me that being a nurse is her “dream job,” a labor of love that she feels privileged to perform for strangers, day in and day out.

Lisa treated our mother as if she were related to her by blood, with remarkable tenderness and compassion. When it became evident to everyone who knew her well that this was one fight Mom should be spared, Lisa’s tears mingled with our own as we readied Mom to come home for comfort care.

I realize there are plenty of people who would look at Mom’s medical history and judge all the work not worth it. Likely, they are people who have enjoyed relatively good health and can’t imagine life on reduced terms. Mom would have given a limb for such luxurious standards.

None of this is to say my mother enjoyed being sick or that our family views the health care industry as all sweetness and light. There is astounding waste in America’s approach to medical care, especially during hospitalization. Between the insurance industry and many government regulations, it is a miracle that physicians, nurses and other health care professionals manage to find time and energy to heal anybody. Yet, despite the maddening obstacles, people like Lisa Mize, my mother’s primary care doc and the rest of her team DO manage to heal.

Medicine gave Mom time to see a thousand things she would have hated to miss — and to hear the beating heart of one treasure she would not see. I’d like to think that medicine is a little smarter and better because of their relationship.

Stephanie Salter may be emailed at salteropinion@gmail.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Readers’ Forum: July 25, 2014

    July 24, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: The Czar of Russia

    If you are expecting Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Republic, to react to the crisis in the Ukraine as an ordinary elected official, think again. Even though Putin is the President of the Russian Republic, this is not the job he wants. Putin also doesn’t want to be the chairman of a newly resurrected Communist Party in Russia. No, what he wants is to be the czar of a greater Russia.

    July 24, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 24, 2014

    • Clinic will expand basic health access
    • Misunderstanding truth about Islam

    July 23, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Work program needs industry buy-in

    Good help is hard to find. That’s essentially what Indiana companies have insisted for several years. The state struggles with a “skills gap,” the firms explain. They need employees, but can’t find enough — or in some cases, any — qualified Hoosiers. Businesses say too few applicants possess the “soft skills,” such as showing up for work on time or being able to effectively communicate with co-workers.

    July 22, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 23, 2014

    July 22, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Dragonfly

    The other morning I was moving the canister that holds our recycling material out to the curb when I saw a strange sight. What I saw was a dragonfly fighting with a bee.

    July 22, 2014

  • FLASHPOINT: News about reality, not affirmation

    The public’s trust in the news media keeps dwindling. At the same time, Americans’ political polarization keeps increasing.

    July 21, 2014

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Chickens as pets always turned out same way

    I suppose many of us who grew up on farms or in small towns adopted unusual pets. I had a fondness for chickens. My folks always kept a few chickens, not only to fry or roast, but also for the eggs.

    July 21, 2014

  • Readers’ forum: July 22, 2014

    • Supt. Ritz has right to govern
    • A tribute to a teacher
    • Rep. Pelosi shows ‘bungling idiocy’

    July 21, 2014

  • Readers’ forum: July 21, 2014

    • Theater brings the joy of music
    • Drawing closer to the spirit
    • Give some space to heterosexuals

    July 20, 2014

  • LovellEdwards.JPG MARK BENNETT: Former Terre Hautean Jim Lovell stood ready as Neil Armstrong’s backup on Apollo 11

    The words “Apollo 11” stir optimism in me.
    I was an elementary school kid growing up in Vigo County when Neil Armstrong put the first footprint on the moon on July 20, 1969. So much seemed possible

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo 4 Stories

  • EDITORIAL: Vigo Jail study essential to determine strategy

    It comes as encouraging news that the Vigo County Council might include in its 2015 budget significant funding for an expert and neutral study of what can be done to replace or enhance the existing county jail.

    July 20, 2014

  • Readers’ forum: July 20, 2014

    • ‘Hotel Indiana’ has a sour tune

    • Kind words about the newspaper

    • Some questions about RTL video

    • No mercy for cop killers

    • Crack down on gun violence

    • Anti-Dem tirades mask GOP failures

    • Important day for participants

    • Appreciation for support

    July 20, 2014

  • FLASHPOINT: Solve our border crisis

    More than 60,000 unaccompanied alien children — mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — have been apprehended on America’s southern border during this fiscal year.

    July 20, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: World Cup over, but it was fun

    After many weeks and many games, the World Cup is over. While the world calls it “futbol,” only we in North America play another brand of football. It is very simple to understand why this is the world’s favorite game … all it takes is an empty lot, a round soccer ball, and you can get a futbol game together.

    July 18, 2014

  • FLASHPOINT: Living in peaceful communities requires collaboration

    Hoosiers have the right to live in peace. Yet, too many of our friends and neighbors are currently living in fear.

    July 18, 2014

  • Flashpoint: Will Gov. Pence be true to his word?

    This is written in response to recent remarks made by State Board of Education members.

    July 17, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 18, 2014

    July 17, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Presidential Ambush

    No wild-west ambush, either real or fiction, has been as successful as the ambush on President Barack Obama.

    July 17, 2014

  • READERS’ FORUM: July 17, 2014

    • Civil rights and burning cities

    • Quality service from Baesler’s

    July 16, 2014

  • FLAHSPOINT: Supt. Glenda Ritz ‘creating conflict’

    It has been my pleasure for the past year to serve as the newest member of the Indiana State Board of Education. I bring a fresh perspective to the board as an attorney and business executive who served as Director of Economic Development under former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and President of the Indy Partnership, a regional economic development organization charged with recruiting new companies to our state.

    July 16, 2014

  • tstribunestar Editorial: Continuing the standard

    U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett has raised the profile of his federally appointed position more than any individual to hold the job in decades. From the start, he was a man on a mission, and often that mission was focused on rooting out corruption, maintaining integrity in government and pursuing those who violated the public trust.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Readers’ Forum: July 16, 2014

    • The truth about property taxes

    July 15, 2014

  • Letter from BOE member: Superintendent Ritz ‘creating conflict’

    It has been my pleasure for the past year to serve as the newest member of the Indiana State Board of Education. I bring a fresh perspective to the board as an attorney and business executive who served as Director of Economic Development under former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson and President of the Indy Partnership, a regional economic development organization charged with recruiting new companies to our state.

    July 15, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Collett Park

    Saturday at the Park, Collett Park, another beautiful wedding was held. They looked so nice in the warm weather with the Gazebo acting as church sanctuary, I would almost be tempted myself to do it again, and do it outdoors at the Park. No, no, no, not again, even as pretty as it is in the Park on a nice July Saturday.

    July 15, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 15, 2014

    • Are Fed policies hurting America?

    • Staying true to code of respect

    July 14, 2014

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Lots we did not have in those good ol’ days

    In my thankful moments, I’m glad I was not my grandmother’s daughter. I would miss the modern conveniences.

    July 14, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Legal marriages should be honored

    An eager and probably nervous couple stands before a minister or a judge or a county clerk and exchanges vows, accepting the legal, moral and ethical obligations of a marriage.

    July 13, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 14, 2014

    • Where did the 61 cents go?

    July 13, 2014

  • wefight.jpg MARK BENNETT: Filmmaker captures late uncle’s walk through illness and into ‘whatever is next’

    Paul Fleschner sensed a remarkable strength as he filmed his beloved uncle one final time.

    July 12, 2014 2 Photos

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts U.N. School in Gaza Hit by Israeli Strike Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase
NDN Video
Bill Murray Continues To Be Just Bill Murray By Eating Some Free Bill Murray Ice Cream Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Hillary Clinton Blamed Bill's Affair With Monica Lewinsky On Abuse He Suffered As A Child 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity