Scorpion Ebook–All Formats, Reduced Price–Read Excerpt

•May 25, 2012 • 4 Comments

Scorpion, my book about my unnecessary turbinate reduction surgery resulting in Empty Nose Syndrome and my subsequent patient blacklisting, is now available in all formats from Smashwords, Inc. and in Kindle format from Because I want everyone to read my book, I have reduced the price to $2.99.

Scorpion at Smashwords:

Scorpion at Amazon:

scorpion book cover fixed

Book excerpt:

Chapter 10

I called Dr. Shark’s office and told Wendy that I wanted to pick up my patient records when I came for my appointment on December 5.

I got the records as soon as I arrived. Before my name was called, I had time to see the term “atrophic rhinitis” on three records—November 7, November 12, and November 26—all of my post-operative exam dates, except for the first one. November 26 was the day that Dr. Shark had accused me of having an emotional problem because, as he’d said, there was nothing wrong with my nose. My fear for my condition overshadowed my feelings of betrayal

Dr. Shark was trying out a new tactic this day. “Tell me how you’re doing,” he said, magnanimously, as if his only concern was my well-being. I skipped over the question and pointed out the term “atrophic rhinitis” on my records.

“Is it true?” I asked.

“Only temporarily,” he said. I knew that atrophic rhinitis was not a temporary condition. It was incurable, but I clung to his words with ragged hope. He asked again how I was doing. I barely heard the question. My universe had been reduced to atrophic rhinitis—“dead moose.” I told him I was better, but that I still could not breathe well or sleep. He checked my nose. He said that the crusts were all gone on the left, three-quarters gone on the right, and that I did not have atrophic rhinitis today.

When I got home, I called Wendy and told her that I had forgotten to ask the doctor if I needed to take any precautions when my two-year-old grandson came to visit on Dec. 22. He had MRSA. Actually, so did Leah. She had gotten it from her son, but the baby’s infection was worse. Wendy said that she would get back to me. Jack had reserved a motel room for Leah and the kids. My apartment couldn’t accommodate them. They were coming for Christmas, as was Laura and her family. For the first time in seven years, Jack and I and the kids were going to have Christmas dinner together.

That evening, I looked through my patient records. The CT report of November 18 stated, “No significant septal deviation is seen.” One of the premises upon which I had based my decision to have the surgery was that I had read that a deviated septum can contribute to the development of polyps because air doesn’t flow normally through the nasal passages. I didn’t have a deviated septum.

The surgical pathology report noted a clinical history of deviated nasal septum and chronic sinusitis. I did not have a deviated septum and when did I get chronic sinusitis? I had never been treated for a sinus condition in my life before I met Dr. Shark. I had gone to him for tinnitus. On the medical history that I had filled out on August 6, following Respiratory—asthma, emphysema, lung–I had written “none.” After Allergic, Immunologic—environmental–I had written “Lyme’s Disease, Fibromyalgia since 1984, hay fever, CO exposure winter 2006-07.” None of these things qualifies as chronic sinusitis. People with chronic sinusitis have miserable noses, they can’t breathe, they use nasal sprays. I had never had a breathing problem or a dry nose, or used a nasal spray, until after Dr. Shark’s surgery.

On the progress notes, dated August 6, Dr. Shark had noted “chronic sinusitis.” I wondered when he had written that. There had been no discussion of sinusitis in August. If we had discussed “chronic sinusitis” on August 6, I would surely have mentioned it on the patient form that I had filled out on the same day. A piece of that form seemed to be missing from my records. Where was the paper that asked why I had come to see the doctor, and asked for a description of my symptoms? I had filled out a lot of these forms lately, and that was always one of the questions. He allegedly noted “infection” on August 6, yet failed to mention it in his August 8 letter to my GP.

On a pre-surgery report, dated October 28, Dr. Shark had written, “She complains of recurrent sinusitis, throat congestion, and extensive sinus disease per her recent CT.” I had told him that I had noticed stuffiness a few times when I cried. This stuffiness had been so insignificant that I had not mentioned it until the day he’d told me that I needed surgery.

I had never discussed a sinus problem with any doctor in my life. I had gone to the same doctor’s office for five years. Nowhere in those records was there a single complaint about a sinus problem–nor in any previous medical record. I had just been approved for Social Security in March. I had filled out copious medical forms. Nowhere was there a mention of a sinus problem, detailing and evidencing my medical history since 1984. How did he think he could get by with this?

My patient exam report of November 12 noted not only atrophic rhinitis, but “chronic rhino sinusitis.” This was the second time the doctor noted atrophic rhinitis, and now, he bestowed a chronic rhinitis condition on me, which I assumed was something worse than sinusitis. He was ramping up the diagnosis. Was he inventing chronic conditions to explain why I had atrophic rhinitis two weeks after his surgery?

According to the surgical pathology report, this was removed from my nose and sinuses: multiple pieces of flat bone and cartilage, in aggregate measuring 4.0 x 4.0 x 0.2 cm. Also some gray mucoid soft tissue measuring 2.0 x 2.0 x 0.6 cm. I ran to my bedroom and got a ruler. 4.0 cm was larger than 1 ½ inch. Suddenly, I was wearing a little cage and I was falling down a dark hole in my cage. This was why I had atrophic rhinitis. Turbinate “tissue” was bone. This was why the poster on the ENS forum had told me that turbinates did not grow back.

The surgical report was full of words like “power dissector” and “mocrodebrider” and “blade” and “trocar obturator” and “Killian knife.” I couldn’t look straight at it. I peered at it, through fingers covering my eyes. Near the end of the report, I saw these words, “This left a markedly deformed septum.” Was this why he’d told me that I had a deviated septum, reinforcing the verdict at every exam? Had it been a necessary part of the diagnosis because he didn’t have the skills to operate without destroying the septum?

Now I knew why Dr. Shark had told me that he would start me on Premarin soon. Premarin is a treatment for atrophic rhinitis.

I thought back to Dr. Shark, on November 26, complaining that other people had worse noses than mine and were not suffering that much, asking me if I had an emotional problem. I thought of him knowing full well that he had brought terrible suffering upon me for the rest of my life with an unnecessary surgery and trying to shame me into silence. I started to cry, but it made my nose feel so horrible that I had to stop. My nose was ineffectual. It couldn’t even produce snot.

Scorpion: The True Story of a Woman’s Victimization by the Medical Industry

•December 1, 2011 • 12 Comments

My book about my unnecessary turbinate reduction surgery resulting in Empty Nose Syndrome and my subsequent patient blacklisting is now available from Amazon Kindle.

Download a free app for reading Kindle books on a PC:

An Unnecessary Surgery

•July 14, 2009 • 4 Comments

When I went to an Ear, Nose  & Throat doctor for ringing in my ear, I ended up with radical sinus surgery and a nose job. I was made a nasal cripple, my face and my health were destroyed. I was shocked to discover that other doctors didn’t care. In fact, they covered it up. And I couldn’t even sue. It could happen to anyone. It could happen to you.

Sick Care

•March 9, 2013 • 4 Comments

Five years, four months and two weeks ago, an ENT, whom I had gone to see for tinnitus, cut a large amount of bone out of my nose and face for no medical reason. This unnecessary surgery left me maimed, in pain, unable to breathe, and infected with acinetobacter, a deadly antibiotic-resistant infection. The surgeon, who examined my nasal cavity three times over the next six weeks, never cultured the infection or offered help. In screaming agony, I went to another ENT who prescribed Augmentin without culturing the infection. My mucous membranes had been ripped out in an obsolete surgery called a Caldwell-Luc. The infection lay over raw and bloody body tissues and exposed cut-open bones.

The new ENT, Dr. F., then wrote a letter to my GP describing my infection as “a small amount of purulent discharge,” and devoted the remainder of the letter to rationalizing the senseless butchery. My GP of five years sat with the letter in her lap, a look of disbelief on her face, and suggested I try another ENT. I stuck with Dr. F. It would have taken months to see another ENT. As it was, I couldn’t even see Dr. F. for five more weeks.

Before those five weeks had passed, the infection claimed my body. My lungs, throat, nasal cavity and sinuses filled with blood and pus. I could barely speak or breathe. I lay still in my bed for days, afraid to jar so much as a hair for fear I would slip away. Finally, I crawled to my phone and called my GP at home on a weekend. She called a prescription for 10 days of Augmentin into my pharmacy. This was five days before my next scheduled appointment with Dr. F.

When I saw Dr.F., he suctioned pus out of my nose for ten minutes. “Look at all this,” he marveled to his resident. A circus clown would have known, at this point, that the infection was antibiotic-resistant. Dr. F. ordered me to finish the Augmentin and then return in six days for a sinus culture. A wrong antibiotic will beat down an antibiotic-resistant infection. Unfortunately, a wrong antibiotic is worse than no antibiotic at all because the infection that remains will then mutate and become more antibiotic-resistant. He wanted to beat back the infection before he cultured it because of course he should have cultured it five weeks earlier. Instead, he had strengthened the infection in the course of attempting to minimize my condition and cover up a colleague’s malpractice.

The Augmentin didn’t do the job that Dr. F. had hoped it would. Six days later, I tested positive for acinetobacter. The infection was eventually cleared.

For the next five years, I struggled with antibiotic-resistant eye infections, tooth roots and a recurrent “sinus” infection on the right side of my face. The right side of my face has progressively collapsed. For three years, I have suspected that the “sinus” infection is an infection of the bone or osteomyelitis. I have been unable to get this infection diagnosed because Dr. F. has sabotaged my care, calling around to my caregivers and making sure I get no help. I must never get a diagnosis until I am so old and decrepit and so much time has passed that Dr. F. can claim there is no relationship between his malpractice and my osteomyelitis.

Allow me to describe an example of the kind of “care” I am receiving for this recurrent infection. The pain began again last August. I saw Dr. D., an ENT. Dr. D. ordered a two-week course of intranasal Bactrim, with 2 refills. I used all three, refilling the prescription each time the infection returned. Then I returned to see Dr. D. in January. I took my laptop computer and my 2-year-old bone scan which, unfortunately, was done at the end of a long course of antibiotic treatment, rendering the scan almost useless. Even so, the scan was not entirely normal. Dr. D. guffawed at my scan and said he didn’t know how to read it. I told him—as I had before—that I really believed the infection was in the bone. He dismissed that, saying that if I had a bone infection, I would be really sick—systemically sick. I told him that, in fact, I was really sick and had been for months. He ignored that and said he was prescribing another antibiotic. I had now had the infection for five months. He was able to see the infection with an endoscope. I said, “Aren’t you going to culture it?”

“Pshawww,” he said. “If I culture it, you’ll just get a bill for a lab test. Let’s do the antibiotic and then I’ll culture it next time.” That’s right. Let’s kill the infection and then culture it. Where have I heard this logic before? And its variation: Let’s kill the infection and then do a bone scan. In fact, I had been hoping for a new bone scan. After a powerful round of antibiotics, I would not be able to get a clear bone scan for another six months. So Dr. D. wrote a prescription for a two-week course of Clindamycin. I became horribly sick from the antibiotic—raging, diarrhea, pain and nausea. I didn’t return to see him because I was out of town visiting a friend.

I returned to his office five weeks later, still sick. “Oh my God,” he said. “You should have stopped taking it.” (I admit that I should have.) “We have to test you right away for C. Diff. I knew what he was talking about. Clostridium Difficile. A serious intestinal infection one gets from taking too much antibiotic. I had already researched it and I was pretty sure I had it. I had to ask him to culture the “sinus” infection which I believed would test negative after that antibiotic assault. In fact, he saw no infection. “Well, it must have killed something,” he chuckled. “It took out your GI tract.”

I got the C. Diff test done at an Urgent Care.  Two days later, Dr. D.’s office called early in the morning. M. was telling me that Dr. D. wanted to start me on Bactrim. I believed she had received a positive result on the C. Diff. test. “The infection is Clindamycin-resistant,” she said.

Bactrim is not a drug for C. Diff. “Oh, you’re not talking about the C. Diff,” I stammered. “You mean…?”

The “sinus” culture had tested positive. I asked her what the “sinus” infection was. Meanwhile, I was spinning with the knowledge that I probably also had C. Diff, which would certainly be made worse by Bactrim. “I don’t know,” she said.

“You don’t know? What does the lab report say?”

“I don’t interpret lab reports,” she said.

I lost my temper and yelled that I never should have been put on Clindamycin which had made me very sick, and here it turned out that the “sinus” infection was Clindamycin-resistant. “The infection should have been cultured before putting me on an antibiotic,” I fumed.

When I got off the phone, I called the Urgent Care. The C. Diff test was positive. M. called me back and said I could pick up the lab report at their office which is a 45-minute drive. On my way there, she called again to tell me my C. Diff test was positive. “Dr. D. wants to put you on Flagyl,” she said. “No thanks,” I responded.

The lab report was enlightening. The infection is a rare form of staphylococcus. I’ll bet that is the most antibiotic-resistant staph on the planet. Bone infections are usually staph. I also have a diphtheria-like infection. A good life-threatening case of C. Diff was just what the doctor ordered.

Scrubbed Out

•January 3, 2013 • Leave a Comment

In his book, Scrubbed Out: Reviving the Doctor’s Role in Patient Care, Dr. Salah D. Salman says, “The United States needs a universal health care system, which is already available in less affluent industrialized countries. I believe that health care is a human right, and it has been neglected in this country.”[i]

“Dr. Salman studied and trained at the American University of Beirut and at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. He spent his professional life in academic medicine. He is a former Professor & Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology at his Alma Mater. In 2009 and after 23 years, he retired from being a Surgeon and Director of the Sinus Center at the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary, and a lecturer at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts.”[ii]

Dr. Salman points out that “needed reform is slow to come to the U.S. health and insurance industries.”[iii] He recounts that U.S. Presidents have attempted health care reform, starting with President Truman who tried and failed to pass a compulsory universal health insurance law in 1945. “President Nixon in 1974, President Carter in 1979, and President Clinton in 1995 each put forth proposals to broaden health insurance coverage and make it universal.”[iv]  Each of their proposed plans also failed due to the opposition of businesses.

“Congress has acted courageously on more than one occasion in the past for the interests of the public—why not now?”[v] Saldan asks.  He points out that President Johnson succeeded in introducing Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

Salman contends that “market forces have been allowed to play important and decisive roles in health care, with catastrophic results. Medical leaders have supported and even adopted business principles that were not designed for the practice of medicine or the management of suffering.”[vi] He adds that “Leaders in the medical field have learned from administrators and others that the appearance of propriety is more important than propriety itself. The concept of right or wrong seems to no longer exist—almost any behavior to increase income and cut down expenses has become justifiable.”[vii]

Saldan discusses the financial interests that contaminate the practice of medicine, in every area, including medical schools that divert funds away from the training of doctors, health insurance companies, medical device corporations, pharmaceutical companies, hospital administrators, doctors who perform unnecessary surgeries and order unnecessary tests, and medical organizations such as the AMA that serve to protect the financial interests rather than perform their stated roles. For example, “as another example of business priorities, the AAO-HNS’s president and chair of the board of governors launched a campaign called ‘2001: A Sinus-free Odyssey’ as part of Sinus Awareness Month in March 2001. The aim of the campaign was mainly profit. Letters to academy members asked them to inform the thirty-seven million sinus sufferers in the U.S. that medical and surgical relief was available for chronic sinusitis, thereby indirectly promoting a wave of unnecessary and costly surgeries.”[viii]

Saldan says, “The sad story of chronic sinusitis and functional endoscopic sinus surgery is worth describing in some detail. When fully told, it illustrates many of the problems that have plagued health care and that this book discusses. As an ENT surgeon, I have witnessed its unhindered growth and development for years; a new theory about the cause of sinusitis and a new surgical technique to cure it were widely adopted fast, without convincing proofs of their value. Evidence against them was suppressed when it surfaced. The medical and hospital leaderships failed to intervene when they should have to monitor quality of care and to control cost. The see-no-evil attitude of medical doctors helped the wide spread of a questionable theory and a questionable surgical technique.”[ix]

“FES quickly acquired enormous—and in retrospect, suspect—popularity in the U.S. Shortly after its introduction, the reported incidence of sinusitis increased rapidly and for no apparent reason. For example, from 1986 to 1988, the federal government reported fifty million workdays lost to sinusitis. Between 1989 and 1992, the numbers increased to seventy-three million. I suspect that the numbers would not have increased so dramatically had FES not been introduced, aggressively marketed, and popularized. Indeed, because FES was lucrative, its indications were stretched to a suspect extent.”[x]

“Hospitals encourage abuses because of the business unnecessary surgeries bring. Direct advertising and reporting in the lay media have helped increase FES’s popularity. Critical voices are suppressed or ignored. Conflicts of interest have become commonplace. As a result, we now face an epidemic of unnecessary and incomplete sinus surgeries, which have resulted in deaths and serious complications, and which have significantly contributed to the escalating cost of health care.”[xi]

Dr. Saldan wrote critical papers that were constantly turned down by medical journals. He concluded that “The medical and business beneficiaries of this ‘miraculous’ surgery are too mighty to fight; they have a whole arsenal of political, legal, and monetary weapons with which to resist control and regulation. A system that does not provide a forum for critics to be heard or their opinions acted upon is not a good system to protect patients and control cost; it is a system crying out for reform.”[xii]

Where should reform begin? Saldan believes that “we need to replace the current medical leaders with new, committed, capable, and powerful leaders who can make a difference. We also need a new entity to oversee reform, with authority over the current health care players: a powerful, apolitical, independent organization that can make and implement the needed hard decisions, which none of the present players have done or can do. Whether appointed or elected, these new leaders must be aware of and accountable for their responsibilities toward the medical industry and the public—responsibilities that transcend bookkeeping, balancing budgets, and protecting the interests of doctors, medical schools, and hospitals. Instead, these new, top leaders should be willing and able to make unpopular decisions that serve the interests of the patients and the public in general, and should be able to fight the commercialization of medicine and the prioritization of corporations’ interests over patients and public health.”[xiii]

“To reform the medical leadership, this book advocates a solution first proposed in 2004 by authors Barlett and Steele: an independent government organization that is largely immune to politics should be created, called the U.S. Council on Health Care (USCHC).81 Such an organization would essentially be analogous to the Federal Reserve System, and would shape health care policies much as the Federal Reserve oversees the nation’s money and banking policies.”[xiv]

Saldan says, “The solutions the book proposes are not easy to design and apply, but they are necessary and unavoidable. And they’re far more realistic than waiting for the impossible to happen: for the insurance and pharmaceutical companies to become philanthropic; for the legislators to become insensitive to their generous corporate contributors; for the administrators to alter their priorities; and for the lawyers to become saints. We do not have to wait for the impossible; we need to take action now, before the system collapses and the health care reform signed into law in 2010 fails to achieve all its intended long-term purposes.”[xv]

[i] Salah D. Salman M.D. (2011-09-06). Scrubbed Out: Reviving the Doctor’s Role in Patient Care (Kindle Locations 2536-2537). AuthorHouse. Kindle Edition.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Ibid.

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] Ibid.

[xiv] Ibid.

2012 in review

•December 31, 2012 • Leave a Comment

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 20,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 5 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

The Treatment Trap

•December 13, 2010 • 6 Comments

“In debates over health-care reform, a missing element has been the failure to confront the over-use of medical care. Politicians and the health-care establishment don’t want to talk about it. One person’s overuse is another person’s payment for college tuition or a mortgage on a McMansion.”[1]

Two people who are talking about it are authors Rosemary Gibson and Janardan Prasad Singh. The name of their book is The Treatment Trap: How the Overuse of Medical Care is Wrecking Your Health and What You Can Do to Prevent It. Gibson and Singh cite medical research and share insights gleaned from doctors, nurses, hospital CEO’s, patients and their families.

“Health care insiders confirm that medical care that doesn’t make people better has become more prevalent in the past decade…A seasoned nurse observes, ‘Health insurance used to be about giving people access to health care. Now it’s about giving providers access to patients.’ The former CEO of Johns Hopkins Health System, Dr. James Block, says about over-use, ‘My God, there’s so much of it, you see it everywhere.’”[2]

“In November  2008, the National Quality Forum, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization, released a list of prescription drugs, lab tests, diagnostic tests, and surgeries that are overused. The list includes antibiotics, x-rays, cardiac CT scans, heart bypass surgery, back surgery, knee and hip replacement, prostatectomy, angioplasty and hysterectomy.”[3]

“Dr. James Weinstein, director for the Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice at the Dartmouth Medical School, calls overuse an epidemic…One doctor calls it ‘the green monster.’ It lurks in every crevice of the system; its appetite is voracious, and it is obese…It wants to keep you in the dark—it doesn’t want you to know that so much of medicine is guesswork. Under the guise of benevolence, it wants to sell just about anything to an unsuspecting public even if it doesn’t help and may possibly harm. Its greatest enemy is truth.”[4]

“In 1976, a House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations heard evidence and concluded that 2.4 million unnecessary surgeries were performed annually, resulting 11,900 deaths.  The annual cost of these surgeries was estimated at $3.9 billion. Since 1976, no new estimate of overuse has been calculated.”[5]

“The term ‘over-use’ was first coined in 1991 by Dr. Mark Chassin, a physician and researcher; and now president of the Joint Commission, the Chicago-based organization that accredits and certifies sixteen thousand health-care organizations. In an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, he defined it as providing a treatment when its risk of harm exceeded its potential benefit.”[6]

An anesthesiologist tells the story of “Mr. Goode,” an elderly patient in surgery for a total knee replacement. The surgeon on the case replaced the anesthesiologist with a different one. After the surgery, the patient was back in surgery in dire condition. The anesthesiologist read the patient’s chart and saw that his EKG suggested significant coronary disease. In talking with the patient, the anesthesiologist found that his symptoms were suggestive, not of arthritis but, of poor blood flow to his legs. He realized that the surgeon had replaced him as anesthesiologist, on the case, because the surgeon knew he would have stopped the surgery. “Mr. Goode” died later that day.  When the anesthesiologist complained to his superior, the chief of anesthesiology said, “No one important dies.”[7]

A doctor who practices medicine on the east coast has this to say:  “It’s a bit graphic, but over-use is like the nature programs on PBS television. When the tigers or lions kill their prey, all kinds of creatures come to share in the feast. This is what happens to patients. I see it every day. When a doctor admits a patient to the hospital, he might call in six, eight, or ten consultants. Each one bills the patient. No one questions whether the procedure or whatever the consulting doctors do benefits the patient. It’s a feeding frenzy.”[8]

“He continues: ‘Not far from here a group of doctors refer patient to each other. They do all sorts of things to them, and give each other kickbacks. The patients think it is good care, but they don’t know enough to know otherwise. It’s not good care. It’s exploitation. It’s assault and battery. It happens every day in doctors’ offices. The government allows the doctors to be crooks. It’s a form of organized crime and no one does anything about it.’”[9]

“Overuse increases the cost of health care for everyone and causes health insurance premiums to skyrocket. Millions of people are denied entry to the health-care pasture because they cannot afford the price to enter. If unnecessary grazing were curtailed, more people could enter the pasture to receive the care they need.”[10]

[1] Gibson, Rosemary and Janardan Prasad Singh. The Treatment Trap: How the Overuse of Medical Care is Wrecking Your Health and What You Can Do to Prevent It. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2010.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

I Smile and I Cry

•August 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I have been criticized because someone saw a recent photo of me smiling. This person had seen me crying because of my suffering from Empty Nose Syndrome and severe pain in my face and teeth caused by three unnecessary surgeries—a Caldwell-Luc, a septoplasty and a turbinate reduction.

Since the surgeries nearly three years ago, I have cried almost every day. That is an increase of about 9,000% over the number of days per year that I cried before the surgeries which I estimate to be about 4. “Cry now smile later,” this person said, “One face two personalities.”

Two thoughts no connection.

I have never met a person who cried all the time. All day every day. Not even people who were dying. That’s not the way we’re made. I’ll bet that even people on death row smile. Even on their last day. As long as there is life, there is the possibility of joy, however fleeting. Is there anyone who has never witnessed a smile break through a flood of tears? Or anyone who has never striven to bring about that smile?

I’ve smiled in the midst of childbirth, in the midst of divorce, and in the midst of years of unrelenting suffering from unnecessary surgeries. Did any of this smiling mean I was not in pain? Not in the least. It meant I was still alive, still capable of a range of human emotions.

The first time I heard my own laughter after the surgeries was a shock to me. I was suffering enough in that moment to cry. And yet, something touched my heart in a place that brought forth peals of laughter. I think it was one of my daughters being funny which both of them are. Both of them have the ability to mine the smallest morsel of humor out of the bleakest circumstance. They got it from me.

I think the feeling of most new Empty Nose Syndrome sufferers is that they will never enjoy anything again, never smile, never laugh, never savor a bite of food or languish over a dream. It’s not true. You might not experience these things for a month or a year. You may never experience them, again, at the frequency that you did before. But you will experience them.

People don’t either laugh OR cry. People laugh AND cry. The only difference is in the percentage.


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