Last month we experienced yet another basement flood. “How could this possibly happen?” we asked ourselves after we got the call while traveling. We had taken enormous steps after the last flood just a few years ago. That flood was caused by sewer overflow (thankfully clean water) from inadequate town sewers. A huge rain overwhelmed the extra pumps that were deployed by the town.
After complaining to the town about the almost 100 year old sewers, we re-engineered our basement’s water system as a hedge against their response, “There’s no money to upgrade.” We removed the toilet and sink; cement of the drain was used to prevent back flow. We put a one way valve on the utility sink in the laundry room preventing use of water for washing clothes unless it was turned on. And, of course, we had the two sump pumps upgraded.
So this most recent call was as infuriating as it was mysterious. That is until we started digging into the potential cause(s). When we had left for a short weekend reunion trip, the town was in the process of (finally) replacing the sewage sewers. Upon digging in front of our house, the clean sewer pipe was damaged. It was temporarily closed off until it could be fixed. But since this problem was not anticipated as part of the contract with the town, several days went by before the line was again hooked up.
During that time torrential rains occurred. The sump pumps had no where to pump the water because the drain line had not been re-connected. Back-up was inevitable. Clean up was immediate. But, alas, many papers on bottom shelves could not be saved.
So this flood of waters has forced me to face a flood of memories. Memories of the 10 years of legal actions I pursued to get equal pay for equal work from the University and Kaleida Health. This must be a sign. A sign that it was time to get rid of these lingering memories.
Two carton loads of papers from an article 7 grievance. Three large notebooks of faculty salaries and the analysis of how women fared in the medical school. The article 78 that I filed to save the Otolaryngology Residency Training Program which I won in court only to lose at appeal due foiled by the argument that I didn’t have standing to bring the original action. This argument not rebutted by my attorney who was quite ill that day, but I still believe to be incorrect.
And then there is more. So much more. Each binder, each deposition, and each box of papers. What treasure might it yield for my much talked about, but not yet written memoir.
Am I foolish to hang on to this past? At times I think, “What a ridiculous way to spend my time.” And then I come across a jewel that reminds me that those years, though difficult, still have something to teach me. Something that might help someone else.
This time it was a letter. A letter from a nurse who worked in our recovery room. She was so effusive in her praise of me and my actions in helping save Children’s Hospital in 2002. So why is this important?
She was the same nurse who swore under oath, during my “fair hearing” in which I was accused of being a disruptive physician, that she had never heard anyone say a good thing about me! (I went back to the transcript which had survived on a high shelf to verify her words.) And now I had the proof that her memory was quite faulty.
So why should I care when all is done and it is now nearly 6 years later? Because others are being judged by “unfair” hearings about behavior of disruptive physicians. And in fact, others who were involved in that hearing, which resulted in a 30 day suspension from the medical staff, have left the area under a gray cloud or are being investigated by the FBI for crimes of theft on a grand scale. How can their words, their motivations and their memories be trusted?
So should I ask for a re-hearing? Should I try to have the tainted decision reversed?
I am sure the attorney who handled the case will say, “Don’t bother, it’s behind you.” I am sure my friends and family will say the same. And yet, my Achilles heel of never giving up, I think, there must be a way…….
And surely, I will find it, using my tools. And so begins another journey.