I know it says “Miracle Central” up there but this is NOT about religion. At least not exactly. I’m at the Cleveland Clinic – one of the most amazing hospitals in the world — so my husband can have his yearly checkup. Why do we fly to Cleveland every year? Even the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame wouldn’t bring us more than once.
We’re here because at this hospital four years ago a doctor cut open his chest, and then his heart, and saved his life. It pretty much was a miracle. So we like them to get a look at him once a year — to make sure he’s ok. It’s harder for me to walk into the hotel here than it is for him, I think. He was in congestive heart failure and scared but kind of beyond reality the day we arrived, and then he stayed in the hospital while the boys and I stayed at the hotel. After the surgery he was on medications and then struggling to get his strength back. The small details of illness, and families hoping for the best, were lost on him. Two years ago, when we made an extra trip to go through the same surgery with a good friend and his family, we were so focused on the particulars of his situation that the human dramas beyond them faded well into the background.
But tonight, sitting in the “club lounge” of the hotel attached to the hospital, listening to people with cancer and heart disease and weird combinations of neurological and heart problems and their families – and watching them laugh and tease one another and struggle to be brave, I was just knocked out. First of all it’s a beautiful thing to see — we see it every year when we come here — the way families take care of one another and support each other — and the other families they meet over breakfast or coffee — through what is a truly terrifying experience. Until you see a loved one on a gurney, being wheeled down a long hall toward life-and-death surgery, as alone as he will ever be — as you stand with your kids trying to smile for him — you can’t imagine.
Secondly – it’s an outrage to see such magnificent health care and realize how few people get it. This hospital is run so brilliantly and with such pride; each staff member so competent, confident and gracious that you just want to hug all of them. It’s still possible to offer good health care in the US — and it’s as much about good management as it is about money. I wish you could see it. We should NOT be allowing the wonders of American health care to fade away without a fight. If you want to see what we’re losing, come to Cleveland. Don’t give up those miracles without a fight!