This is the tragic tale of my Parents' family doctor, or rather his substitute, who maldiagnosed three of our serious life events:
First, in summer, 1963, when Rose and I arrived in Holland on our Honeymoon from Hawaii. We stayed at my parents in Amstelveen, and after a couple of weeks she got nauseous in the morning, so my Mother took her to their doctor to test for pregnancy. Since the "real" doctor was on vacation, the substitute took care of Rose. After tests and hearing that she had missed her period, he assured them that Rose was not pregnant and that 'women often become irregular when they travel a lot.'
So off we went on our arduous honeymoon trip to Italy and Greece which was punctuated by head- and bellyaches and morning sickness.
And it was only two or three months after we went back to the USA - she going on to Hawaii to finish her degree, and I to Washington, La Jolla and Long Beach, then to Capetown to join Ocean Science and Engineering, - where we were to meet again by Christmas - that I received her devastating letter announcing that she was pregnant and wanted a divorce... Obviously, the substitute's test and prognosis had been wrong, but I never told my parents about our son Dan.
Second, at the end of summer, 1981, when I spent two weeks with my parents in Amstelveen, Holland, together with my son Ben, then 16 years old
and much into skateboarding and such.
The night before we were to fly back, my mother had a headache and went to bed early. The next morning, my father called me to come and look at her since he thought something was wrong.
I rushed to her bedside and was just in time to hear her make her last deep sigh and die without waking up. We quickly called the doctor,
but once again, it was the substitute who showed up. With my father and I anxiously watching, he felt for a pulse, then looked up and said to my father: "Well, I guess you know it already."
upon which my father replied very formally and caustically : "No doctor, we do not know and it is you who must tell us!"|
We canceled our return flight and stayed on for the cremation. Everyone was surprised that my mother died unexpectedly at the age of 70, since they expected that he would "go first", considering his longtime and severe suffering of emphysema. So we were astonished how well he kept up, organized things and walked around as he had not done in years.
Third, a few years later, in 1985, my sister Carla phoned me one evening.
My father had wished to continue living in the house in Amstelveen, and for years, she drove up and down once or twice a week from Reeuwijk to take care of him.
That morning, he had called and told her he was going to die and she should come over quickly. She did, and said that he complained she was already "too late".
She called the doctor and once again, it was the substitute who showed up. He felt my father's wrist and then said: "Well, it is not that serious, Sir"
upon which my father said something like 'you are wrong again, doctor', turned around abruptly and died.|
In Dutch, there's the expression: "Ik erger me dood!", which roughly translates as "I am annoyed to death!"
In this case, it was applicable enough that it could have been used as my father's "cause of death."