"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

circling back to say thanks

When my husband was just 26 years old he started to experience some strange health deficits: slurred speech, droopy eyelids, difficulty swallowing and weakness in his extremities. We'd only been married a year. It threw us for a loop, to say the least.

Eddie had previously been very healthy. We didn't know what was happening to him; the doctors we saw weren't sure either. After a couple years of being poked and probed, being told it was "all in his head" and eventually being misdiagnosed, Eddie began taking meds for a disease he didn't have. The meds he took for that disease nearly did him in. At our wit's end, we finally checked into the hospital at the University of Michigan, determined to stay there until we got some answers.

Early on during that hospital stay a young resident walked into the room. His name was Joshua Cohen, and he and Eddie were about the same age. The two guys had a lot in common; they hit it off very well. The young Joshua Cohen seemed to make it his mission to give us a proper diagnosis. Over the course of the next three weeks, Joshua, our new friend, worked overtime to help one of his very first patients. The diagnosis was Myasthenia Gravis. With medication, Eddie has lived a full and active life, and it's really because of a young resident who put his nose to the grindstone and didn't give up until he had successfully solved the puzzle.

Fast forward 40 years. Our son Max is in medical school. Soon enough he will be a resident. Like Joshua Cohen. Eddie recently told Max the story about how important it was for him to get a proper diagnosis.  How it saved his life. As I heard Eddie and Max discuss it, I realized we had never really had a chance to thank Dr. Cohen. I suggested we do that.

Eddie: There are probably a thousand Dr. Joshua Cohens out there.

Me: I bet we'll recognize him.

Thanks to Google, it took about three minutes to find our unsung hero. Eddie wrote him an email, expressing our gratitude and hoping he'd remember us after all these years. Of course he did. Eddie was one of his firsts. How could he forget?

Dr. Cohen wrote back immediately. During their correspondence, Eddie mentioned that Max was in medical school. Now Max and Joshua are in touch. Eddie was not the only one to express appreciation for Joshua's astute investigative skills, tremendous smarts and unwavering dedication; Max said "thank you," too. As the son of the patient - and as an aspiring physician.

It's a feel-good story. I thought it was worth sharing.

Dr. Joshua Cohen

Eddie and Max

PS - I'd like to congratulate Max, who found out yesterday that he is the recipient of a 2016-2017 Fulbright. He will use the grant to do research on antibiotic resistance in Colombia, South America, where he will live for the next year. His dad and I are very proud!


Nelson Wasswa said...

Congrats Max on your Full Bright Scholarship very few get that! And it is stupendous that your among the few in the world.Mama G, the story is very touching, you somehow make me revisit your blog once or twice a week. #IHaveManyLessonsToLearn.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this genuinely touching story. It's so obvious that in this time of polarization, we all need stories to remind us of our shared humanity. RS

Anonymous said...

Such a great story. Wow! And congratulations to Max. What an honor.
- Susan

Anonymous said...

Beautiful story, Gloria. And congratulations to Max!

Jessica said...

Thank you for sharing yet another great story, Gloria! So glad Dr. Cohen took his time on that case, and congrats to Max!