Podcast: More Than a Man on a Ventilator

Lynette Whiteman

Podcast: More Than a Man on a Ventilator

Lynette Whiteman
This holiday week had me thinking a lot about my dad and how much I miss him.  He was the “keeper of traditions” in our family and always sat at the head of the table during family gatherings.  At every celebration he would say how profoundly grateful and proud he was of his children and his grandchildren.  My dad pretty much wrote the book about living a life of gratitude, not waiting to tell people how much he loved them way before his generation ever heard about these concepts.

He died November 8th 2011 at the age of 88 after developing pneumonia and being put on a ventilator.  He spent two weeks in the ICU in a coma and I was never able to say goodbye to him or tell him how much I loved him.

During those two weeks of absolute hell, there were a myriad of doctors and specialists who came in and out of his room.  Most of them did not make eye contact with me. They mainly made me feel like an awful human being and really obnoxious for daring to ask them a question about his condition and prognosis.

But – there was one doctor in her residency who showed such kindness to me and who is someone I will never forget. Every day, she checked on my dad, and when she came in the room she asked how I was. She gave me an opportunity to tell her about my father and she was able to see him as a human being, not an old, anonymous man hooked up to machines.

On the day that they disconnected him from the ventilator, she was the one who pronounced that he had passed. I was in such deep grief, but I remember looking up at her and there were tears running down her face.

Because of that, I felt that even though he never met her, my dad was able to touch the doctor in his own way and she knew he had value. I doubt that this doctor even has a memory of this and I’m sure she doesn’t know the effect she had on my life.

I wish you all a Happy Passover and Happy Easter. I know the holidays just aren’t the same without a loved one, or if the person you’re caring for is physically present, but not mentally the same. I hope you will find someone who will touch your heart and give you the gift of kindness.

This week on my podcast, “On The Frontlines of Caregiving” I interviewed Dr. Nicole Rochester who is the CEO of Yourgpsdoc.com. Dr. Rochester was the caregiver for her father and even though she is a trained pediatrician, she struggled navigating the health care world and being taken seriously as an advocate for her father. She gave me her top three tips for caregivers which I hope you find helpful.

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Lynette Whiteman

Thanks Kathy - what a powerful memory of your dad and so glad you got to hear that and experience his love in that way. I'm sure you will hold onto that memory and that piece of him forever and ever. I had a lot of dreams about my dad for a year after he died and I loved them, but was also really sad when I woke up and had to let them go. I don't dream as much about him 7 years later but when I do it's really special.