Seattle Doctor Recounts Husband’s Battle with Kidney Failure

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Dr. Linda Gromko

In “Let Me Go When the Banter Stops: A Doctor’s Fight for the Love of Her Life” (ISBN 1470118181), Dr. Linda Gromko writes a true love story that is serious and humorous as she recounts her husband’s struggle with end stage kidney failure. The doctor reviews the joyful early years of her marriage to Steve Williams, a self-made Seattle business executive who she describes as “gifted at banter, irreverently funny and loyal as a beagle.” Beyond this, she recounts her early relationship with Steve’s 9-year-old daughter Brita, who stared the doctor down with the admonition, “I hate every centimeter of you – get used to it!”

Steve was known to have chronic diabetes and hypertension for years. But when he falls abruptly into end stage renal failure, the couple learns to perform dialysis at home and contemplates the stark reality of the only treatment that could nearly cure him: a kidney transplant. Temporary luck arrives in the form of Steve’s niece Teresa who offers to donate a kidney. Yet the surgery is complicated by a heart attack, and the donated kidney is ultimately removed. Steve’s journey through the university medical center is layered with his wife’s insider reflections on the very same hospital where she trained as a nurse then later as a physician. Dr. Gromko observes a broad variation in health care personnel with respect to their interpersonal skills and apparent motivation, providing her greater insight into her own profession.

By the time Steve leaves the hospital, he has completed three major surgeries and survived three heart attacks. He returns home facing major rehabilitation and ongoing dialysis. Steve endures further cardiac complications and more surgeries before succumbing to his illness. Through all his suffering, medical trials and personal anguish, his wife Linda was at his side. But instead of playing the role of the “supportive spouse,” as recommended by one nephrologist, Linda becomes a full-on medical advocate.

“Let Me Go When the Banter Stops” is a memoir profoundly moving in its recreation of a marriage’s tender dynamics. While its ending is ultimately sad, it lays the foundation for a triumphant beginning as Linda and her new daughter find fresh footing and the courage to prevail.

A nurse before becoming a physician, Dr. Gromko has dedicated the book to the ICU/CCU nurses at Seattle’s University Hospital and Swedish Medical Center, and the nurses at the Northwest Kidney Centers.

“Let Me Go When the Banter Stops: A Doctor’s Fight for the Love of Her Life” is available for sale online at Amazon.com and other channels.

About the Author: A board-certified family physician, Linda Gromko, MD, founded Seattle’s Queen Anne Medical Associates, PLLC, one of the city’s few independent medical practices. She worked as a nurse and nurse practitioner before entering medical school as the mother of a 4-year-old son. She worked as an emergency room physician before founding her own practice. She authored “Complications: A Doctor’s Love Story” and co-authored “Arranging Your Life When Dialysis Comes Home” with Jane C. McClure.

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