Monday, May 20, 2013

Leslie Haber

Leslie Haber passed away two years ago today. We were married over 39 years so my life is different now without him. He was officially a brilliant man because he scored a 99th percentile on the MENSA test. He was officially a genius. He could answer any question with clarity, insight, and would give answers. I miss talking to him. I miss playing canasta with him everyday.

Les was very ill for the last five plus years of his life. He went to Oregon Health Sciences University and Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis several times a year and saw several doctors. Detailed blood tests several times a year. Many smart doctors but no answers as to what was wrong. During this time his kidneys shut down and he had to be on hemodialysis for three months and then, remarkably, he got better and his kidneys recovered. The last year I was trying to get him seen by the Undiagnosed Disease Program with the National Institute of Health. Dr. Wahba, from Good Samaritan Hospital was helping us forward this process and then suddenly he was diagnosed with 4th stage esophageal cancer and needed a feeding tube because the tumor was blocking his intestine.

He went through a lot of pain, anguish, and it was hard for him. He wanted to live. He was making plans for us to move to Germany and live there since he was a dual-citizen.

So much doesn't make sense. More questions than answers. His death certificate raises a lot of issues. In addition to the cancer of the esophagus, it also said he died of malnutrition and that his bowel was punctured. How can this happen when he had three dietitians from OHSU, Good Samaritan, and also a private company, so many doctors, so many nurses, so many smart people surrounding him?... He had a visiting health nurse who was very nice. He had a physical therapist who was the only one who questioned whether he was getting a high enough calorie count with the liquid nutrition he took through his feeding tube. The feeding tube was painful and there were continual problems with it.

One time he was very weak after chemotherapy at OHSU and his doctor said he needed a blood transfusion. I asked why couldn't he have it right then and there. Of course, that wasn't possible. We needed to drive back to Alsea from Portland and then in a couple of days, we had to drive back to Portland for the transfusion. It was hard on him to ride in the car. He was in pain no matter how much morphine he had. After the transfusion, he ended up in the ER and then onto the cancer ward at OHSU for a week. This was our life. Doctors. Tests. Waiting. Pain. Chemotherapy. Pills. Heartache. Stress.

A few days before Les passed away, he was at Good Samaritan Hospital in Corvallis for several days. He shouldn't have been let out, in my opinion.

Leslie Haber was born in Chicago on January 26, 1950. He grew up in Rogers Park near Lake Michigan, which at the time was a neighborhood of almost 97% Jewish population. Les went to Hebrew School, and had a bar-mitzvah. He went to the University of Illinois in Chicago. He had courage and integrity. He wanted things done right. He worked hard on projects that were important to him. He loved his kids and spend lots of time helping with homework and driving them around.

Daniel, our youngest son, who lives in Columbus, Ohio is working hard to radically change health care. Using Information Technology, doctors will instantly have all the information they need when they need it to help patients and to be more effective in their care.

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