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Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Ohio State Hospital Nurses: A Letter to President Gordon Gee


For some time I've trying to think of a way to thank the many nurses at the Ohio State Hospitals for all they've done for me during my many years of medical troubles.  Finally I decided to bring my admiration to the attention of OSU President Gordon Gee, who would certainly know how to use such a commendation.  Thus, the following exchange occurred just this month.

President Gee
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                                                               July 12, 2011
Dr. E. Gordon Gee
Office of the President
The Ohio State University
205 Bricker Hall/190 North Oval Mall
Columbus, OH 43210-1357 

Dear President Gee:
You kindly sent me a congratulatory letter after an article appeared about my 2009 heart transplant, and we've briefly met at a couple of law school social functions, so I take the liberty of passing on the following to you to use as you see fit.
I joined the law school faculty in 1976, and in March of 1978 I ruptured my appendix (at age 34) and very nearly died since I walked around for two weeks in that condition.  Only the help of a nutritionist friend (who gave me drinkable meals when I could keep nothing else down) kept me alive until emergency exploratory surgery at OSU saved me.  The surgeon who cut me open (the great Dr. John Minton) later told me he'd informed everyone in the operating room that "this one isn't going to make it."  Happily, after a month in the hospital, I did make it, though it led to five subsequent OSU surgeries for fistulas and hernias, the last being in 1995. 
In addition to the heart transplant in late 2009 (and major new medical difficulties in 2011), there have been other minor surgeries at OSU hospitals (say six or seven, depending on what you count), and these, cumulatively, result in this letter.
The doctors (who have done much on my behalf, and to whom I'm very grateful) have ranged from absolutely splendid to something less than that, but the OSU nurses have uniformly been wonderful.  In circumstances that varied from life-threatening to minor, they were terrific: talented, kind, caring, dedicated, truly interested in me, and putting patient care before anything else.  After one hernia operation in which my body, after four months, had rejected an artificial net that had been surgically wrapped around parts of my stomach, I awoke with three nurses near me.  While they were making sure I was all right, one of the doctors approached and briskly told me, "Well, Professor, that didn't work, so we'll be operating again soon."  Then he walked off without another word.  As if they were one entity, the nurses began stroking me, telling me not to worry, while proclaiming that this particular doctor had no "patient skills" and was known to be a "jerk."
Most recently in two hospital visits this spring and summer, the nurses have taken my side in sometimes difficult conflicts in ways that amazed me.  In their position—frankly—I wouldn't have had the courage to do it.
In the end, the only way it occurred to me to thank them is to bring my incredible respect for all the nurses at Ohio State to your attention.  If you can find a way to let them know how much their many patients appreciate what they do in difficult times for suffering people, I would be very grateful. 
Sincerely, 
Douglas Whaley
Professor Emeritus
Michael E. Moritz College of Law
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President Gee mailed me a response on July 14th:

Dear Doug: 

Thank you for your note.  I am so pleased to know that the nurses at our Medical Center provided you with exceptional care on numerous occasions.  We cannot thank these talented individuals enough for their important, life-changing work.  And, I will certainly continue to express my gratitude to our nursing staff. 

Again, I very much appreciate you writing to share your experience, and do hope you are faring far better.  Best wishes for a summer of rest and relaxation. 

Sincerely,

Gordon

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Related Posts:
"About That Heart Transplant," January 24, 2010
"My Heart Belonged to Andrew," February 17, 2010
"Another Letter to Andrew's Parents," March 10, 2010
"A Toast to Andrew," May 2, 2010
"Mama, Biopsies, and My iPad," May 19, 2010
"The First time I Nearly Died," August 3, 2010
"Rehabilitating Doug," June 12, 2010
"The Purring Heart," November 23, 2010
"1999-2001: A Dramatic Story, " December 15, 2010
"Naming My Heart," March 24, 2011
"Report on Old Doug: Health, Theater, eBook, and More," June 28, 2011
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013

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