Sign up to receive news, announcements, and updates.

Published: Failure to Thrive

Published: Failure to Thrive

I am thrilled to announce The Examined Life Journal chose to publish my essay, Failure to Thrive, about my husband’s surgery for a hiatal hernia. I’ve written other pieces on this experience. In an Op/Ed for the San Diego Union-Tribune, I outlined many of the medical missteps that occurred during Tom’s surgery. And in a blog post, I provided specific suggestions for anyone contemplating surgery to help avoid many of the issues we encountered. Before either of these two articles were written though, I wrote the essay, Failure to Thrive. Written just weeks after Tom’s surgery, this essay exposes my fears and frustrations during Tom’s difficult recovery post-surgery.

Here’s an excerpt:

“I kept thinking Tom might be turning the corner – the catheter is out, oh wait, it needs to go back in. The fluid in the drain is supposed to decrease as the week progresses and yet, the amount increased each time we measured it before emptying. Any minor victory was short-lived and often led to only more setbacks.

Tom showed little interest in the different liquids I proffered to tempt his appetite—tasteless or too sugary. In constant pain, he preferred sleep to escape his discomfort. I began to move through the days alone and Tom didn’t seem to notice. Our anniversary slipped by without a word. A Failure to Thrive. As a caretaker, advocate, wife, lover, and friend, roles blur and boundaries bend. It’s difficult to know how much to say, how hard to push, and how long to wait.

I’ve read obituaries describing the death as due to “complications post-surgery”. I now knew what that might mean. Family members helpless to intercede as their loved ones are overwhelmed by pain with no path forward. In my role as a patient advocate, I’ve listened to patients’ stories about their healthcare experiences. Recovery is often a bumpy road. It requires significant effort from both patients as well as those that care for them. If a patient is not engaged, it is difficult to find a way, despite the best intentions.”

I’m happy to report Tom recovered from this surgery.

The Examined Life Journal is a literary publication from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. The journal is published once a year. A call is sent out to over 8600 people and there are between 400 – 600 submissions. This year, 46 writers were selected. It is an honor to be in this space with so many great writers sharing experiences with health, care and medicine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More on the Patient Experience

Sharing Patient Stories

Stay Up to date

This is a place to learn from patients how to navigate the patient journey more effectively from diagnosis through treatment and recovery. Stay up to date with news, announcements and updates.

Navigating the Patient Experience

Sign up today to receive news, updates, articles and exclusive access to all our Resources! Sign up today.

* indicates required