First day of clinical training and I thought I may have managed a lawsuit. I do not even have malpractice insurance yet!
Aside from the cold wind biting at my face early morning, the staff members at a chaotic hospital paining my other end was a crisp reminder that vacation is over. I have returned to the diseased and the disgruntled, and the patients are the least of my concern. I called in a morbidly obese sick guy who was having trouble talking after having a stroke some years ago. I saw that he is not dying, ordered an ECG for his occasional left sided chest pain, ordered some blood-work, and told him to return in a month to see me with the results or earlier if needed.
But I needed a pen. A pen to write that he has been having the unaddressed chest pain for the past few months. To write that his legs have become so weak that he has recently started using a cane. To make sure that we have in records that his blood sugar this morning was the usually uncontrolled 121. So I needed a pen. The pen that was likely given to the front desk in the office by a drug representative who must have also brought fancy lunch to discuss his product over. Thinking it was the right decision…in the absence of the desk-place owner, I went and reached for a red pen among other writing tools sitting in a jar. I quickly went back to tend to the patient in the room and began writing my note.
I discharged the patient shortly, no problem but returned to find what I thought could have been a practical joke on a newbie. I walked in and was regarded to as…”Suze me! You gotta aks fo da pen befo yah take it! N return it!” I thought I heard fingers snapping as I heard those words, though it could have simply been my nerves. I looked around to see if anyone else found this ridiculous…or if there was a cue for..”relax! we jus kiddin’..”.or if there was a lawyer nearby ready to hold anything I said against me. I instinctively apologized while grinding my teeth when I saw neither.
I should have given her the extra pen that I found in my jacket pocket as I slammed the red pen at her desk, but instead I took the fancy veggie sandwich from the break-room that the drug rep brought to enjoy on my way home.
It is about time you decided to suck on a Menthol Mr. hufferpuffercougher guy. I sincerely wish you well from across the table, but smoking your lungs as a waking ritual every single morning before a lardy breakfast will do you no good. How can I tell you smoke? That raspy, choking noise you make with each unreliable breath even after having cleared your throat a few seconds ago. That is how. So maybe you did quit, but I wish you had quit sooner than you did. And if you have not yet, I wish your google search of an unrelated subject pulls up a pungently blunt post by who you think to be an overtly rude blogger that reads: “dragging an oxygen tank everywhere few months after having half of your lung removed by a surgeon who was less bothered that day and cut perfectly around the 3cm deathball proliferating elsewhere in your chest as well. That is about the best you are looking at a few billion struggling breaths down the road”. I sincerely do wish you well.
There is a fashionable old woman sitting right across from me, writing something from what seems like a novel in her notepad. She has got dark brown hair covering the most of her forehead lines and even the unevenness of her pencilled brows. You would not be able to tell that one ends a little before the other or the same is a little more arched than the other, but I am staring. She even has the brightest of shades of red on her lips, drawing attention away from the deep smile lines she must have resented years ago. She may have accepted them now. Maybe. I know, I would have a hard time too. Her hair, pulled up into a bun compliments the keen look she wears with her glasses. I have tried that look, but it does not suit me as well as it does her. So fashionable.
I would say that’s about a thousand pages of a novel, and she’s at page…oh 556. And she herself, maybe 76. I have never written anything out of a novel into a notebook. Maybe in high school, but recently I have just read. Why is she still writing? So much from a single page, page 556. What is it in that book that she woke up this dreary morning, contrasted perfectly her burgundy collared shirt with the pale pink cardigan. Refined her sophistication with well fitted brown pants and matched them astutely with her inch-heeled brown shoes. Seated herself among five youngsters with their laptops in a room full of clicking and flipping. But she, still on 556. From her constant writing and unrelenting attention span though, I would trade my 326 for her 556. Any day. But not the 25 for the 76. Not a day.
I am a people watcher. I like to sit with my favorite mug of hot coffee and a flavorless book illustrating how to fix people in a quiet study room. Instead, I just watch people when taking a break from tongue twisters and mind bogglers. I watch the ones inside the room, flipping through pages of something important frantically. The look on their faces tells me that it is due soon, and as usual, they are running out of time. I can relate. At their expense, I enjoy how they look deeply into their scattered pieces of documents, with their brows crooked behind their glasses and their backs wearing a terrible posture. Then, they straighten up and turn abruptly towards the ceiling and whisper what they have just read. Use their hands to count, place, act out, or perhaps .. hold up in surprise after having an epiphany. Reminds me of that optical illusion that your friends find impressive enough to email you: stare at the center of the picture for 30 seconds then stare at a white wall. I saw Jesus. I wonder if anyone really listened to the noon church bell right now. I would have missed it if I were being a good student. I also pay attention to the poor ones out the window, chasing after the little devils that grow up to become responsible, civilized individuals. You know, the ones that vote for a better future and then join the facebook group “I Just Voted” or something. Poor souls out there, chasing the little monsters down the road of maturity. Going to be a long run. Oh wait, she caught the kid before they could cross. Oh the adamants now and not to mention the horrid broccoli for lunch. I wonder what would have happened if she was not on time. Empty parking lot, calm afternoon, naked tree branches. Thank goodness. People watching. The best part of it is that I do not look like a creep, and I would like to think from the looks that I get, I do a fair job of not acting like one either. Mind your opinions. I am simply a bystander. For now. Unless, of course, there is a zombie apocalypse.
People like food. Some travel the world for the lavish ambrosia while others create a frugal version of it in their kitchens. I do neither. I recall trying store-bought sushi for the first time and becoming especially enthused about wasabi. My logic of rather young years was challenged at the sight of it: first, they did not give me enough for the eight sushi rolls I have, assuming that is how it is used. Second, it looks to be a smear of green frosting right off a birthday cake, yet they tell me it is the spiciest. Of course I did not believe them and served myself a good bit of it in one bite. They tell me my face changed a few shades of red in a few seconds. Of course I do not believe them, but I do prefer my sushi without wasabi now. Only because I appreciate the flavor of sushi more wholeheartedly this way.
Not so much sushi but quite a bit of people like cheese, I have learned. I know of some good souls that sprinkle this thing on everything edible before plunging the newly delicious treat in their salivating mouths. Other ridiculous ones will sprinkle few leaves of lettuce in their bowl full of monstrous mozzarella and nod while making noises with each bite of their healthy choice. I do neither. Though, I do quietly enjoy a slice of cheese pizza occasionally and find those who strip the pizza naked of its cheese before consuming it…I find them particularly ridiculous on a completely different level. Health or not, no reason justifies this act. No, you’re not eating a banana. No, I do not want to be seen with you while you are doing that.
If you are anything like me and enjoy cheese in moderate amounts, then I suggest you refrain from becoming more than just acquainted with medicine. I am too late. I have learned that for our own selfish sakes and our failure as creative beings, we have associated edible things readily available as snacks with abnormalities of the body. In this profession of great individuals, there is unexpected cheese erupting from every disgusting crevice imaginable. We have gone as far as to associate pertinent type of this dairy delight as a visual aid for otherwise difficult to describe conditions. For instance, a medullary sponge kidney has not goat but swiss-cheese appearance. Our minds are graced with the image of yeast-infection or an epidermoid inclusion cyst at the sight of cottage cheese. Demonstrated as “keywords” in credible textbooks and well-read web sources, these associations continue to give us an acidic taste of our already ingested breakfasts during examinations. I will spare you any more of the details for another time but leave you with a pearl: If you like cheese and dough, then stick with business.
Before the storm set in, I set my foot into the grey evening to pick the raspberries in the backyard. Half past boredom and I decided to give the other half to serenity of the warm winds out the window, and out the door I was. In the drizzle, and twenty quick steps later, among the wild raspberries. The green of nature adorned with the yellow of time, and the scenery served well as a life lesson. But I, concerned only with the fruit of it, let my unkempt hair soak in the melting clouds. Lessons can wait for when I am too weak to tolerate the weather, too tired to take quick twenty steps again, too afraid to balance on one foot to pick the ripest of the raspberries. Lessons I can learn when I am tucked in bed on a cold winter night under a flickering light of a lamp ready to give in. Right now, I will plow through the ants and flies ramming against my eyes in an attempt to defend their sweet territory. I will see to picking out that far fetched dream, ripened and just waiting for me to hop through the thorny branches. If it takes closing my eyes, having faith that my hands will reach, trusting my legs will not give out then so be it. I will reach for it. Lessons I will learn later, because lessons can wait till I run out of mistakes to make.
It is a difficult situation. It is difficult to have seen the world from a keyhole from the minute you became conscious of time. Incomplete faces of truths that you made whole with your own desires. Then suddenly, some favorite toy from childhood gets in your way and you lose your balance; you trip over to push the door wide open. It was unlocked! you realize that instant, yet all the while you figured the keyhole was all that you were blessed with. You’ve been exposed. It is indeed a difficult situation. So much that even the ground beneath your injured knees becomes untrustworthy. Your senses become overwhelmed with the pungent truth that you had believed through a small glimpse. Your calm hits the ground just as hard as you did as you fell through the door into a new existence. Before they could not, but now that you’ve clumsily made your appearance, now they can see the fidgeting and the quiver in your nervous smile. Before you went unnoticed, and now you cannot seem to hide your unready self. Suddenly, the undone hemming of your raggedy trousers is somehow embarrassing. It matters now, the unevenness of your bangs. But what now? Are you accepted as an adult who perceives this world as a child? Are you not gazed upon with surprise when a “child” of your age experiments with long established norms of this society. A society that existed in fragmented clips through the hole. You look back to see where the door was, and the warmth of a faint voice against your ear slashes your panting calm bloody: “welcome to the world where dreams are deferred, fantasies provoked but realities adjourned”