Saturday, December 18, 2010

Goodbye to an Old Friend

Wednesday when we went through the mail, we discovered that one of the Christmas cards we had sent out, had been returned to us. That occasionally happens because someone has moved. But this was for a different reason. The recipient of our Christmas card had passed away in September.

The Christmas card was addressed to Mommy's former doctor - a vibrant, lovely woman (complete with dreadlocks!) who had walked with us through our struggle with infertility and ended up being the doctor who delivered Parker. Dr. Debra Skinner was just 52 years old and had been the very first female African-American obgyn and surgeon in Lee County where we lived. She died after battling systemic lupus for the last few years. We had not known that she was ill. But we are so thankful that someone in her former medical practice took the time to send our card back and let us know what had happened to her.

After finding out the news, we reminisced about our experiences with Dr. Skinner. We met her for the first time for a routine visit on September 11, 2001. We sat in her waiting room that afternoon and were glued to the television set to watch the unfolding coverage of what was happening in New York and Washington DC. We had no idea what to expect when we met her and we were so pleasantly surprised. She was extremely personable and took great time and care in talking and getting to know her patients. She was also a no-nonsense, straight shooter when it came to your health. After a few months when it became apparent that we had reached the end of the assistance she could give us our fertility issues, she set us up with a referral to one of the best reproductive specialists in Lee County. She celebrated with us when we became pregnant with Parker and started coming back to her practice again. Throughout our pregnancy she patiently guided us through all of our questions and issues. A few weeks before Parker was due, Dr. Skinner was at the hospital delivering a baby when we went for our regularly scheduled checkup. So we saw another doctor in the practice. That doctor wasn't happy with the fact that Parker would not respond to her - with pushing, noise, etc - even though the afternoon was the time that he always slept like a rock. The substitute doctor sent us straight to the hospital to have a special kind of ultrasound warning us that we would probably have to have a c-section that night. We were so scared. Guess who met us at the hospital in the ultrasound room? Dr. Skinner who looked over test results and quickly calmed all of our fears. When we went to the hospital in labor on March 28th, Dr. Skinner was already there with two other mommies-to-be. She laughed as she met us in the triage area - she had been planning to call us the next morning and tell us to come to our appointment the next day ready to go to the hospital for an induction. One because Parker was already a week late and two because she was going to be leaving for vacation on March 30th and knew Mommy would be far more comfortable with her than with another doctor. And that was definitely the case!! (Seriously we have yet to find another doctor since then that we have liked as well). At Mommy's six week post-partum checkup, Dr. Skinner knew that we would soon be moving away and she asked that Mommy stay in touch and let her know how we were doing. We have sent her a Christmas card and family newsletter every year to her office since then. A couple of those years we even received a card back, but she never mentioned anything about her illness.

We are so thankful for the period of time that our lives intersected and for the impact that Dr. Skinner had on our family. Please keep her husband Carl and their son Charles in your prayers.

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