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Today is my Dads anniversary. It’s a hard day for all the obvious reasons.But also for less apparent ones. Because it shouldn’t be his anniversary.If he had been in ANY other country he would have had better ACCESS to timely healthcare. But he wasn’t anywhere else,he was here (1)
So when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour he had to wait for a bed in neurosurgical centre to have his biopsy so he could START his chemotherapy treatment.WAIT is the word. I was in the nightmare relative situation: the doctor in America! Ringing home each day asking if he (2)
(3) had gotten a bed? Each day the answer was no. My colleagues in America kept asking me: what’s the path? What treatment is he on? Each day I had to say: “I don’t know yet, he still hasn’t had a biopsy, there’s no bed yet”. They were incredulous! Each day I got more and more
(4) ashamed of our system & of myself for not being able to help him. 3.5 weeks in to the wait for a bed one of my colleagues in Boston said to me “Gabrielle you know if they don’t do this soon it’s just going to be too late sweetie? He will just die. I feel so bad for you”
(5) and the next line has stayed with me since: “you guys pay first world taxes for third world access”. He got a bed, a biopsy but by that time he was barely conscious & about to cone. The nurses & doctors reading this will know what that means & know how traumatic it was for
(6) his daughters, one a consultant here, one a senior spr, to have him die from cerebral oedema, two days after his biopsy & 3 days before the results were available. I got home the day before he died. He was mainly unconscious but he opened his eyes once to the sound of my
(7)I made a promise to him then that I would be part of the fight to fix this for other families, that they might be spared the pain & shame we felt. And as I have done so many times since I came back from America, I apologized that he had to wait so long for care, that he was
(8) so let down. Timely access to quality healthcare is a right. A public system is to be nurtured, supported, valued. You never know when you or a loved one will need it & if you wait til then to support it, it will be too late. I hope the steak is rare & the fairways are long
(9) and straight in Heaven. Missed every day
Thanks all for the considerate replies. It is what it is. I can’t change it for my Dad but I honour him by positively advocating for reform within the system. We need to fully staff our team so we have capacity for reform & we need to address capacity issues (1)
Some solutions are easy: end pay discrimination, reverse FEMPI. Others will take more time & commitment to change, some will take political bravery as well as medical leadership. We keep on keeping on!
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