News from Vermont #408 Modern Medicine vs. Positive Thinking!

News from Vermont #408 Modern Medicine vs. Positive Thinking!

February 6, 2018

Hello again Maple People,

These days with modern medicine being what it is, when the need arises, we all want to make use of the best it has to offer. Although we in Central Vermont have an good hospital right here, it is quite small and has its limits. When there’s something serious happening with one’s health, the instinct is to either head east to Dartmouth Hitchcock over in Hanover, NH or west to the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington. Recently Betsy and I headed west.
Mary Fletcher Hospital then….
Even though she’s been a non-smoker for the last forty years, she was diagnosed with lung cancer back in November. All of a sudden seeking out the best of the best was a no-brainer.  Since Burlington’s a teaching hospital and a bit closer to our home than Hanover, we selected it as our “lifeline”. It didn’t take long after we were introduced to UVM’s ultra-professional and friendly cancer team for us to opt for Dr. Mitch Norotsky’s suggested surgery to remove part of her right lung. It was promptly scheduled for four days before Christmas.
Mary Fletcher Hospital as it is now called the UVM Medical Center
On December 21, Betsy and I traveled the 38 miles to Burlington on I-89 and, in spite of questionable road conditions, drove into the hospital parking garage plenty early for her 11:45 AM surgery. We nervously rode the elevator to the third floor and walked through the long, ultra-modern atrium. High above, the sun was already brightening our world through the massive wall of glass…was it a harbinger that things would go well or a “sooner rather than later” message from heaven?
Once through a raft of preliminaries, I finally gave a heart-felt “see you later” to my now drowsy wife of 41 years as they wheeled her away. I settled into the pleasant “nail chewer-friendly” surgical waiting area for a possible three hour period. At about the two and one half hour mark, I was called into a small consultation room to be told by Dr. Norotsky that Betsy came through the operation fine. Soon I was at her side in the recovery room. When she was ready, the okay was given to wheel her to a surgical recovery ward in a distant hospital wing. I followed Betsy’s gurney through a labyrinth of long hallways, many of them only accessible to hospital personnel.
Finally she was settled into a small room in Shephardson, UVM’s oldest wing. Still enamored by the state-of-the-art quality I had felt and seen that day, I couldn’t help but notice markings of the “old retrofitted to the new” in Shephardson. When I left Betsy that night, because I had arrived following the gurney through non-public pathways, I was disoriented about the way out and turned left when I should have turned right. I followed lighted “exit” signs figuring, well, “exit” only means one thing. As I progressed down more long hallways and made several more turns, I kept noticing earmarks of older and older…wooden wainscoting, painted brick walls, dropped ceilings. All at once as I turned the last corner, there before my eyes was the inside of an ancient facade. Thinking back on my day, it was truly surreal. I had entered a time warp back to the late 19th century! My mind filled with thoughts of bustling nurses in white caps, ghosts of sad, sick children in white flowing gowns, and blood curdling screams from days when anesthesia was young. I continued through the ancient exit to an outside world totally different from where I had entered twelve hours earlier.
Now, a few weeks post surgery, Betsy is doing very well. Tests of her lymph nodes and all other areas of her body have come back negative. We sincerely hope that she is now cancer free (*although she has recently been advised to receive chemo-therapy just to make sure). Our heartfelt thanks go out to Dr. Norotsky and the hospital that’s modern enough to be “best of the best” and wise enough to preserve the best of the past.

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