I messed up …

Bad night last night, sleeping late. Pearlsky is home (between school and camp), so we were each sleeping (finally).

Nine fifteen in the morning, my cell rings.

Hi, it’s Paul. I am at your office, I know I am 45 minutes early for my meeting with your partner, I want to make sure I am at the right place.

Paul flew across country to meet my partner. I know he forgot and would be late, let alone early. Uggh. I told Paul to hang out at the cafe across the street (where they sell my coffee, by the way), and that I will be by shortly. I explain that my daughter is out of school, and since she is in a wheelchair, we need to meet at the cafe. My office is not accessible. Yeah, I know …

I somehow make it out of bed, shower, quasi-shave, wake Pearlsky, notice blood in her diaper and it is not that time of the month, dress her, make her meds, give her meds and get out the door in 29 minutes (professional geek, I know these things). Luckily the office is two blocks away. I am only slightly concerned about bringing Pearlsky, men usually completely ignore her, especially geeks. Paul is here to discuss high tech, it should go well, but you never know. And I don’t particularly like mixing business and family, and here we are, I am meeting with an important potential customer / partner high tech guy, drinking my other company’s coffee, and keeping Pearlsky happy.

We get there and Paul says hello to Pearlsky before me! Yes, she is cuter, but this puzzles me. As we sit at a table he leans over and says …

I have a severely autistic five year old son

Talk about breaking the ice.

As we sit there talking I notice a rash on Pearlsky’s hand. She started a new anti-biotic for her urinary tract infection (UTI) (yes, she still has it), and with my superior mind I realize there probably is a connection. Then I remember the blood in her diaper. So I am talking to Paul, keeping an eye out for my partner, watching Pearlsky for anaphylaxis, remembering there is an epi-pen in her bag, talking geek and trying to make a large deal, calculating the moment I change priorities, and being my charming company owner self-assured self. Of course Pearlsky comes first, I just needed to figure at what point.

Finally my partner shows up, Pearlsky and I go home.

Emails and calls to the doctors at the hospital, they want us to come in. One of the doctor’s wonderful assistant gets us in … the clinic nurse calls. She says the appointment is at 4 but insists we come at 3:30. I ask why, and don’t get a good answer. She honestly said “a half hour before” three times. With not much else to do, we got there at 3:25. No one acknowledged us until 4:26. Bitch.

The doctor (not ours) was fine, agreed it was probably the anti-biotic, we changed to Cipro (good, we have lots of anthrax lying around the house …) which, by the way, according to the substitute pharmacist, who looks younger than Pearlsky, we cannot take (the Cipro, in case you lost track) less than two hours before or less than six hours after Pediasure. Yeah, right. Sure.

Oh, and we got a tube of Terconazole cream, which I am sure all of you (well, except Ken) know what that is. And it comes with a freaking applicator. Yeah, right, sure, I’m doing that. How do you spell s-o-c-i-a-l s-e-r-v-i-c-e-s? (ok, it’s a cream “for vaginal use only”) The UTI probably caused the blood in her diaper, but she may have the start of a yeast infection. Yeast … beer, bread, and itchy, red, inflamed female parts.

As I sat in the clinic I realized I really hated that place. It is in the big city major teaching hospital for children … and it is handicap hostile. Just getting into the clinic I need to manually open this big heavy door and hold it while getting the chair into a crowed waiting room with no place for a chair. Only to be called to a take-your-temperature-and-weigh-you-room that does not have a lift nor scale for someone in a chair. And then to wait an hour for no reason. On and on and on. So I am wondering why I go there.

I figured it out. And now, for the reason this post is entitled “I messed up.”

Here is the email I wrote to the head of the Adolescent Medicine, cc’ing the President and the CEO of the hospital.

Dr. E:

As some of your colleagues can surely attest, I am not hesitant to be vocal when there is a problem or something goes wrong. I feel strongly that it is important to be equally vocal when something is especially right.

I am a single father of a severely disabled 17 year-old young lady. We pretty much have a doctor in every department at your hospital! Dr. C.G. has been my daughter’s primary for the last several years.

It is very tempting to send you an email singing C’s praises, and it would be simple to do so, except for one thing … I would run out of superlatives in the English language. I suppose I could find additional ones in Swahili or Aramaic, but the point is that one can never say enough about her compassion, professionalism, knowledge, manner, abilities, etc. I cannot imagine I am the first to point this out, nor will I be the last. She is an incredible asset to your team, your hospital, the medical community, my family, and more.

Being the owner of two companies I know well the value of an administrative assistant to a CEO. In so many instances it is the “admin” that makes or breaks the holder of that position. In that light, I want to also bring to your attention the fantastic work that L.P. performs. I have no idea what her official position is, her email signature mentions “Research Study Assistant” but I have no clue what that actually is in this instance. I also have no idea why she always answers my emails or takes my calls! She has been invaluable in helping in so many situations that arise with my children, situations that are new to her and situations that she must deal with on a daily basis. She is never short on help, enthusiasm, understanding, support, or a kind word. L simply gets things done. There are times when I am under a fair amount of stress and I know I can count on L; if she says she will handle something, it gets handled. And on time, as promised. I must say I would not want her as my assistant, she is world’s more valuable to me and my children as the doctor’s.

Unfortunately, I have little praise for the clinic itself. I will not go into those issues at this time, other than to dare anyone to even get into the clinic with a wheelchair (it is extremely handicap unfriendly). I do not complain about the clinic purely because of the wonderful support of the two women mentioned above, as well as K.F. K works at the desk in the clinic, and with her as well, I have no idea of her title nor her work assignments nor duties. What I do know is that we are always greeted with a smile, with helpful information, and the feeling that someone cares. There are often, shall we say, “timing issues” that are extraordinarily annoying and K seems to sense my frustration and will come out and assure me that we are next, or she will check (unprompted from me) on what is happening. The key here is empathy. K has empathy for the patient / parental point of view and the extra thirty seconds she expends is extremely helpful. She adds a bit of positive influence to an ambience that is otherwise cold and potentially annoying. K has never failed to be anything but helpful and efficient. She, too, is a wonderful asset to your team and I sincerely hope that this is acknowledged.

As you can imagine, I know your hospital better than I would ever want to. These are three women who actually have a definite positive influence on my and my daughter’s quality of life. Having two severely disabled children, being a businessman, and trying to survive has its obstacles, but it also has brought great people into our lives.

I just thought you should know.

I messed up. I wrote a nice email. I hope you don’t think less of me.


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