Thursday, February 04, 2016

The Heaven-Sent Surgeon

Today, I happily introduce you to:

Dr. Robert G. Holman.
General surgeon
from Kootenai Surgery Associates in Coeur D' Alene, Idaho

Normally I keep the names of the doctors in Thomas' life private but in this case, I want to shout this man's name from the rooftops. He deserves all of the kudos he can get and I'm going to take my chance to do so from the "rooftop" of my 7,725 member blog.

Dr. Holman had his work cut out for him by having to enter an exam room with the parents of a son with schizophrenia who had had enough of the medical community. There Dan and I were, dressed professionally and poker-faced, just waiting to pounce. It wasn't that we were going to be rude in any way, it's just that we had high expectations and we wanted them met.

Dr. Holman entered the room with two women armed with a laptop and he introduced himself and explained that the women were going to document the entire meeting.

Score one for the doctor (for insuring accountability).

Then he went straight to Thomas' chart, looked it over, and pondered--out loud--about what exactly Latuda was. He was about to venture a guess and I jumped in and told him it was an antipsychotic.

Score two for the doctor (for inquiring about a medication he wasn't too sure about).

After that he asked about why we had chosen him and come so far from home to see him and we explained how the medical care we had received in our town was sub-par, at best. He was impressed that we had made the drive but told us he was happy to be chosen to treat Thomas. He asked about the previous surgeon and I'll admit I showed my adamant, inflexible side and I told him,

"I didn't like the guy. I didn't like what he said and I didn't agree with a single thing he did or recommended."

And Dr. Holman took a small step back, got very serious, and said,

"Well I hope I live up to your high expectations."

Well, doc, you've done a beautiful job so far!

Then he examined Thomas' wounds and was THE SWEETEST, FUNNIEST, MOST COMPASSIONATE doctor I think I have EVER run into in Thomas' entire life of medical and mental health treatment.

Score 3 for the doctor (for caring about Thomas and not treating him as anything less than the amazing young man he is).

He treated Thomas with RESPECT and tempered his professional demeanor when he picked up on some of Thomas' qualities that make him seem like a child. He maneuvered dealing with Thomas and with Dan and myself with ease and adjusted his language (from doctor-speak, to fellow parent, to dad, to compassionate human being) with ease. I was awestruck as I watched and listened to this amazing doctor.

While examining Thomas' wounds, he complimented me on how well I'd done with my wound care and he explained to me about bacteria and infection and told me to relax a little about those things. He showed me a new way to pack the wounds, took away some of the tedious tasks I'd been doing, thereby cutting my work in half, and NOT ONCE was he condescending or doubtful about my capabilities both as a caregiver and a mom. Again, I was awestruck.

Then he sat down and took the next 10 minutes to explain everything. He told us about studies that had been done on the different types of care that had been used for the last 30 years for these types of wounds and (this was my FAVORITE part) he told us that he had met with and talked to the very doctors that had pioneered the specific surgery that I wanted for Thomas and he said that if he was going to do any surgery at all that this particular surgery would be THE ONE he would do. However, based on Thomas' particular case, he felt that I had done such a beautiful job of caring for the wounds that he felt surgery was not an immediate necessity. He felt, with continued wound care like I've been doing, that Thomas would heal and he would be okay. However, in the event that the condition Thomas has returned, he would do the surgery happily.

Score four for the doctor (for being educated, experienced, and encouraging).

He then joked with Thomas in the sweetest, funniest way that he was disappointed that Thomas hadn't brought him a more serious case and that he felt cheated out of a chance to do a surgery.

We all laughed.

And we all felt relief.

He said that, for now, the worst case scenario was that if the wounds didn't heal from the bottom up and the top closed over before that, that I would need to bring Thomas back to have the wounds cut open a little so I could go back to repacking them until they healed properly. He had high hopes, based on his vast experience, that this would be the end of the whole thing and Thomas would be able to move on.

Wow! Who would have thought that were possible?

In all honesty, though, based on my personal experience with Thomas and his schizophrenia, I feel certain we'll be back for the surgery and in the event that that is the case, we now know that the surgery won't be too serious, that it only takes 45 minutes to an hour to complete and that ultimately, when the surgery does take place, that Thomas will be in the best hands possible.

So, we went on our way and for the rest of the day, I stopped several times and just said,


I mean, SERIOUSLY, could it have gone any better?

Here I sit this morning, free from most of my stress, no longer fearing the unknown and grateful to God for this incredible outcome.

Most of all, I want to introduce all of you to this perfect surgeon, this compassionate man whose name is Dr. Robert G. Holman. If it's at all in my power to make sure this man is honored for his respectful, caring treatment of my son with schizophrenia then that is my goal by writing this post.


  1. thank you and God bless you Dr.Holman. it is truly rare to find someone like him when you have a schizophrenic child. I can really identify with the struggle. my son also has schizophrenia. and by the way thank you Melanie for starting this page it is really helpful to me. God Bless you both!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Melanie and Thomas, God Bless you and Keep you. I've been following your blog since Summer when my son was dx with Schizophrenia, which has been dx as many things and now is Bipolar, we suffer the same stigma's with our children and them being "adults". I pray that Thomas' surgery comes out great and he heals quickly and completely. Big hugs to you all.

  3. I'm glad you found such a good doctor. He reminds me of my son's psychiatrist. There are a few amazing ones out there!!


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