Title: I HATE YOU
MIND & HEART MATTERS BY BERNIE SIEGEL M.D.
Many years ago while still practicing surgery I was paged to the ER where I met and examined a young woman who everyone thought had appendicitis. However, I did not and so observed her, rather than rush her to the OR, which everyone wanted me to do. Lo and behold she recovered and was diagnosed as having a ruptured ovarian cyst. A year or so after that event her younger sister, right before the Christmas Holidays, stumbled and fell into their fireplace. She put her hands and arms out to stop the fall and suffered severe burns on both her hands, forearms and neck. Because of my experience with her older sister the family called me to come to the ER to see her.
I admitted her to the hospital and every day visited her to care for her burn wounds. She had been a musician too and so having her hands and fingers affected was a real blow to her and her life. There was no way I could stop all the pain she experienced when I was cleansing and debriding her wounds. I tried my best to distract her with my crazy childlike behavior but nothing worked. She began yelling at me every day, “I hate you. I hate you.” I would leave her room thinking that this is not what I had hoped to experience as a physician. I wanted to help people and fix things and not be the object of her hatred. Her mother told me that one day I said to her that maybe someday you will love me. I do not remember saying that but I know from my behavior it sounds like something I would do.
After she left the hospital I continued to see her in my office. One summer day when the temperature was in the nineties Madeline showed up in my office wearing a turtle neck, long sleeved sweater. I asked her what she was doing wearing a sweater on a day like this. She said she felt ugly and scarred and was trying to hide her scars and wounds from everyone. I tried to get the point across to her that she was not ugly and that her scars were not what she and her life were now about. She didn’t agree with what I said and told me that she was looking for a job the following summer and wondered if I could help her to find something or knew of something she could apply for. An idea immediately came to my mind. I knew a local nursing home needed some aides and so I called them to tell them Madeline’s story and ask them to hire her even though she had no training. They agreed.
The reason I hoped this would happen is that I knew their aides had to wear a specific uniform to identify them and it would reveal Madeline’s scars due to their short sleeves and open neck. I did not tell Madeline about that just that I had found her a job. She was so happy to have a job that she didn’t ask me any questions. She had matured and didn’t hate me anymore.
A month later in came Madeline for her routine follow up visit. After going over things I asked her how her summer job was going. She said, “No one has noticed or asked about my scars.” I said, “Madeline when you are giving love you are beautiful.” The experience and my words did change her feelings about herself and her life improved from that time on. With time Madeline did not need more surgical care so our relationships ended for several years until the evening I received this phone call from Madeline.
“Doctor Siegel” “Yes Madeline”
“My father died a year ago and I am getting married this summer. I was wondering if you would be my father at my wedding.” Wow what a gift that was for my heart and how her request healed our past and said I love you to me. “Yes Madeline I will be honored to be your father.”
That summer I walked down the aisle with Madeline and after the ceremony we danced together to a song by Kenny Rogers she selected. The lyrics say it all: Through the years you never let me down. You turned my life around. Yes, I felt one of the most meaningful moments in my life.
Here are the lyrics: I can’t remember what I used to do Who I trusted whom, I listened to before I swear you’ve taught me everything I know Can’t imagine needing someone so But through the years it seems to me I need you more and more
Through the years Through all the good and bad I knew how much we had I’ve always been so glad To be with you Through the years It’s better everyday You’ve kissed my tears away As long as it’s okay I’ll stay with you Through the years
Through the years When everything went wrong Together we were strong I know that I belonged Right here with you Through the years I never had a doubt We’d always work things out I’ve learned what love’s about By loving you Through the years
Through the years You’ve never let me down You’ve turned my life around The sweetest days I’ve found I’ve found with you Through the years It’s better everyday You’ve kissed my tears away As long as it’s okay I’ll stay with you Through the years
And Madeline became a nurse to continue loving and caring for the world. So go out and make a difference for yourself and others by being a love warrior.
Peace, Love & Healing
Bernie Siegel, MD
Mind Health Matters with Dr Bernie Siegel and Co-Hosts Lionel Ketchian and Deborah Beauvais is heard on Dreamvisions 7 Radio Network Wednesday through Friday at 12pm & 12amET and every 1st Sunday at 8pmEST when Dreamvisions 7 Radio Network is live at 1510am WMEX Boston.