:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Thursday, June 22, 2006  

because i have been getting a little flack from a certain miss anjali regarding my non-activity on this blog, here is something i wrote in March. I remember Langston Hughes said something like when you are busy living life, it is sometimes hard to sit and write. Or maybe that is my own lackluster interpretation to justify my lack of writing. -sri

from march... on the wards.

people walk around with so much. heavy-ness. carry it and tuck it away.

it is one in the morning. My last patient for the night. A tough black woman. 60 yrs old. sweet but tough. short gray hair and a quick smile but a smile like she's been working so long without a break. her lungs are kinda shot. she has smoked for so long and is wheezing now. wheezing so much you can hear it when you enter the crowded, noisy ER room. she had a Lakers hat on and a Lakers blanket and I started chatting with her about how the Lakers suck right now and you could tell she had been watching the Lakers for a long long time.

It is always great to talk about Cooper and Byron Scott and Magic and showtime. That itself makes the day. So after examining her, i tell her she will have to be admitted upstairs.

She got all freaked out and said "I don't do elevators I am closterphobic and I can't ride an elevator" Her sister is with her and says "She don't get on no elevators-She scared of them closed space. Her sister leaves and I say we can sedate her but she will have to take the elevator.

All of a sudden she starts to shake like a leaf. Her right hand shaking and she starts to cry. Not a sad cry, a scared spontaneous cry.

I squat down to look her in the face since her Laker hat is blocking my view as I stand over her. I tell her I can walk her slow up the stairs if she wants but "what's up- Why are you so scared"?

She says she doesn's tell anybody this but when she was seven, her uncle locked her in a closet and raped her. and she hasn't taken the elevators since. not once. she is 60 now. She said her aunt died a few years back and she went to the funeral and she brought a gun to kill that man. That uncle who had raped her. and sadder than seeing the aunt dead in a casket was finding out that that uncle had been dead for two years. She said she wanted revenge -- for that man who broke her to the point that she couldn't have kids. she can't pee without keeping the bathroom door open. She was never married.

There are certain things that are a Fuck You in the moment but don't make you feel any better. I told her that her life, her leading her life healthy and standing still without fear, without a running away is the biggest Fuck You to that man. That dead man who had raped her fifty some odd years ago. I felt like telling her that without forgiveness for that man her own heart would be affected. but it felt contrived and what do I know of rape and a trespass of something so sacred that you can never feel safe in your skin.

so i was getting paged and paged and a man was dying upstairs and i had to go... but i told her I would be back to figure this out with her and make it upstairs with her.

the man dying upstairs is another story- i shocked him with paddles. it took till 4:30 am to stabalize him. my DNR/DNI patient died at 2:30 in the morning and the family was bedside and I didn't make it there until 5 in the morning. to sign the papers and talk to the family. and the daughters in spanish said doc, you abandoned us. you took care of our father for so many days and his body has been cold for two hours and where were you? and my spanish is okay with a capital OKAY and i mustered something not very convincing.

i kept getting paged by the ER and I called back and they said you have a patient here who will not be taken upstairs until she talks to the doctor. it is now 6 in the morning and i have not slept and I run downstairs and my patient says doc what happened to you. You abandoned me. and I tell her what went down. and ask her if i can walk her slow up the stairs.

she says No. She will take the elevator. And I ask if she is sure. and she says she is.

And I go to round on her in the morning and she is on the third floor and she tells me like a kid who has just hit the winning shot in march madness. she made it up the elevators.


posted by srijeeva | 6/22/2006 10:32:00 AM | |


Bless her heart....bless yours.
Jan in SC

# posted by Blogger Surgeon in my dreams : 6/23/2006 1:03 PM  

Damn, Sri. Good job.

# posted by Blogger Saheli : 7/01/2006 8:57 AM  

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