My sister's cataract surgery and subsequent suicide
by Karen Mataychuck
(Sterling Heights, Michigan)
My 56 yr. old beloved sister had a cataract removed and was unable to see in the operative eye immediately after surgery r/t high ocular pressure. The doctor saw her every day for 4 days and then referred her to a retinal specialist. The operating MD was negligent in that he did not reassure her that this was most likely temporary with several options to resolve the problem. She thought that she was going to be blind in one eye. She was observed crossing herself frequently after what was most likely a prayer that her eye would improve. On the morning of her appt. with the retinal specialist she shot herself in the head after taking 80 Flexeril tablets.
What MDs fail to realize is that their patients are human beings with lives that may include stress already and that the addition of what he feels is "no big deal" can be the "straw that breaks the camels back." In my sisters' case, she was already living with the loss of a job that she had been at for 17 yrs due to the company moving to Mexico, which meant the loss of a paycheck, benefits, a great deal of her identity, and her social support, as all her friends worked there. She had cried a lot and said that she could never get another job at her age and that she was too old to go back to school. The fear of losing her sight coupled with this problem was too much to handle. The irony of this is that she was an out-going vivacious girl who made everyone she knew laugh. 500 people attended her funeral, the parking lot was overflowing and an extra room had to be opened up; and this without an obituary being placed in the paper.
This is my story. I guess the point that I am trying to make is to the physicians. Please remember that the patient is a person, important to many people. What problems appear to you as "common or inconsequential" may not seem so to your patient. That problem may seem monumental and insurmountable to them and could be the catalyst to a tragedy. How sad that possibly a simple explanation, an imparting of a little of your vast knowledge, and a little humaneness and support, could maybe have made the difference between life and death for my sister.
Thank you for reading this.