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Thanking a Physician After a Painful Loss


Elena Ivanova writes a heartfelt note of gratitude for the latest edition of our physician letter-writing series with the Sharp Index.

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As the healthcare community kicks conference season into high gear, it is important to maintain the human perspective. Technology and media and conferences are designed to facilitate human healing and connection.

Inspired by the words of Sachin Jain, M.D., CEO of CareMore Health, we invite the individual to write a note of gratitude. Patients often end up as the mistreated population in healthcare. Increasing regulation and burden can affect care negatively. More than that, we are dealing with life and death. Vulnerability is tested, and with increasing complexity that connection is at risk of being lost.

>> READ: Fixing Physician Burnout Is More Than Just the Decent Thing to Do

Today, we welcome Elena Ivanova, who shared her intensely personal story about how a physician helped during one of her most vulnerable times. We invite everyone to remember that our connections are the point. What do you use to help you and others heal?

Dear Dr. Revital Yehezkel,

You probably don’t remember me, but I will never forget you. If there’s ever a time in your life or career that you feel overwhelmed or depressed, please believe that I am not the only patient who has been touched by your kindness and compassion.

When it comes to (customer) service, 72 percent of customers will share a positive experience with six or more people. But I think it’s very different in a healthcare setting. It’s hard to broadcast a positive experience when the experience, by nature, is engulfed in emotional and physical pain.

On Christmas morning 2015, my husband and I were awakened by our then almost 2-year-old daughter. We were so excited to see the look on her face as she saw the Christmas presents under the tree. We, like many other parents, really wanted to make it magical. We planned a beautiful home-cooked Christmas Eve meal — very traditional Bulgarian dishes. We incorporated American traditions as well — we left out cookies and milk for Santa and reindeer food for his helpers (oatmeal and glitter). We wanted to make some of our earliest memories of Christmas as a family really special.

But after opening gifts, quickly, my in-laws came over to watch her while we rushed to the ER. I was pregnant. And although we were hopeful, we knew something was wrong. I was scared and torn at the same time. The motherly instinct of wanting to protect the baby was kicking in, but so was that of self-preservation. Motherhood is a really funny thing.

Checking in and admission into the ER was a blur. I don’t remember much of it. I’m guessing it was quick — my husband handled it. I also don’t remember much of what happened prior to you opening the curtain and introducing yourself. Again, it was Christmas Day, and you were working. I don’t know how you felt about that, but your demeanor and bedside manner made me feel like there was nowhere else you would rather be than taking care of us — thank you!

After doing some examinations and testing, you had to deliver the bad news. You said, “I am so sorry, but this is not a normal pregnancy. You are having a miscarriage, and right now we have to focus on taking care of you.” You educated me on the procedure you had to do, the D&C. You delivered facts with compassion, and that’s really hard to do.

After the procedure, I was admitted overnight for monitoring. The next morning, I was discharged. I was sad, but I couldn’t wait to go home and see my little girl. A couple of days later, you called and I unfortunately missed your call. You left a voicemail checking up on how I was doing — thank you for that.

Life went on, as it always does. Unfortunately, I experienced one more miscarriage before having a successful pregnancy and giving birth to the most handsome little man on the planet. The day after he was born, you were the doctor in rotation and came to check up on us. We exchanged pleasantries, but you didn’t remember me. I would never have expected you to, anyway. It had been almost exactly a year and a half since that Christmas Day, which I’ll never forget. And I’ll never forget you either. Thank you!

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