I recently read a post by Dr. Henry Cloud in which he explained the difference between those who take responsibility for their lives and those who blame. In the very week I read that post, I experienced my own opportunity to exercise this. My daughter, the one who got the double-lung transplant in October, ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. Not realizing she was going to be hospitalized, I took her to our local hospital for some lab work. I haven’t done that since she was three. Every time she has been sick I have taken her to Children’s Hospital. That is where she has received medical care for her disease, Cystic Fibrosis. They are the medical staff who know everything about her. Unfortunately, they do not perform transplants so we had to go to a different hospital for that.
I guess I was hoping for simple and easy. The local hospital is 15 minutes from our house; Children’s is 45 minutes in good traffic. After day two in the local hospital, concern started growing in my mind. It was becoming clear the Dr who was treating Anna was in over his head. He wouldn’t admit it and I was not sure what I should do. Each day I would think, “Anna will get out today, so let’s just stay where we are.” By day five, I hit my limit. When the Dr indicated Anna would need to remain hospitalized for several more days, I immediately requested a transfer to Children’s Hospital. I felt so powerful in that moment. Like I had finally stepped up and done what I should have done on day one.
Part of me wants to blame the Dr. Yes, I do believe he has responsibility, but I cannot change him. All I have control over, really, is me. So I stepped back and looked at the events. It was clear my first mistake was assuming Anna would get the kind of specialized care she needed at a basic hospital. It hurts inside when I think about that. I feel the pangs of regret. If I don’t let myself feel that, I will squelch my learning and quickly put a salve on it called ‘blame’. So, even as I write this, I feel the regret. It hurts. I feel hot tears in my eyes. I’m letting them spill out and with the tears comes relief from the hurt. I can sort of feel it work its way up from my chest, into my throat and out into the world. I don’t need to hold onto it. I can let it go. Awareness and acceptance of reality coming hand in hand offering me the beautiful gifts of forgiving myself and growth.
Next, I’m celebrating that I finally took charge and did what had to be done to get Anna the quality of care she needed. That feels really good. A lightness and strength accompany that thought. I didn’t wait too long to get into action. No irreparable damage had been done. The Dr.’s at Children’s stopped the negative treatment the previous Dr. had been doing as soon as she set foot in the hospital. Confirmation that what we thought wasn’t right, truly wasn’t right. Not for Anna. Not for someone with a lung transplant and Cystic Fibrosis.
Anna is home now, and doing very well! I am celebrating that, too.
It isn’t easy staying away from blame but it feels gratifying taking responsibility for my actions and letting the responsibility of others sit in their court.