A nurse friend from the Cleveland Clinic sent me this article: One Heart Surgeon’s Story of Helping a Drug Addict Find Hope in which Gösta Pettersson, MD, PhD, wrote about his 27-year-old, heroin-addicted patient. Everyone was convinced she would die. So often we meet patients like this and are perhaps tempted to dismiss them because of an apparent personal failure like drug abuse. We don’t really understand what they’re going through. We see their physical suffering, but it’s actually only a small fraction of what they endure. He operated on this young girl’s heart and she is, today, six months sober. He ends by saying, My patient’s drug addiction will be a lifelong battle – but ‘so worth living to fight it,’ she tells me. She knows now that because her life was worth saving, it is also worth living.
Today’s Promise to consider: Lives are worth saving – all lives, even drug-addicted lives. This cardiovascular surgeon saved a young, heroin addict’s life through both medical and emotional care. Addiction wants to suffocate and end lives – and not all lives can be saved – but where there is life there is hope.
Dr. Pettersson is Vice Chairman of the Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery and Section Head of Congenital Heart Surgery at Cleveland Clinic. He contributed this article.
So powerful Libby This post made me cry. The last line “because her life was worth saving it is also worth living.” My son wrote me a beautiful letter how when he realized how very much he wanted to live a different life -find a new beginning -having “lost” so much, it was turning point. But it was in finding people who showed him compassion not judgement that gave hm him find courage to try a new way, get treatment he needed. Folow a program. He goes day by -but he goes, he lives. I pray every day that there are more people like this man — not just a heart surgeon but a surgeon of the heart– a man with with a heart– people who offer hope and help heal soul as well bodies. People–like you. Like you,dear Libby. Like Barbara. Like all who share here. Thank you as always.
The post is powerful and your words are more powerful. You’re right that the last line hits home, “because her life was worth saving, it is also worth living.” Addiction takes our children away from us, and all of us suffer. Your son is following the program, day by day, one day at a time. And that’s how it goes. I join you in prayer for more surgeons of the heart, more men and women with a heart, who will work with compassion and understanding against this disease of addiction. Love to you and your son, always.
This post made my heart bleed. My son may have died from a heroin overdose, but he lives within me. I may have endured the ultimate loss, but I feel that my son’s demise, in some way, helps parents live through this thing called “addiction”. It’s difficult to imagine what makes an addict, an addict. Is it something they want to numb from their lives? Or is it just the drug itself that suffocates them. Either way, they need to believe (like Jeff) their life is worth saving and worth living.
Thank you Libby for the powerful meditation. It’s amazing how a heart surgeon came into contact with an addict and she is now six months sober. How grateful she must feel.
Joy, I’m so glad your son is still working his program. You must be very proud of him.