The snow is coming! Which means I'm most likely staying put for the weekend. That further means I can sleep in tomorrow, go to the gym, experiment in the kitchen, cuddle with my cats, and READ! On a snow day! I think that's a fantastic plan, don't you? What should I cook, internet? Something interesting. Something I've never tried before... There will be some googling today.
I want to tell you a story about The Good Doctor. He hates being on call. Mostly because plastic surgery emergencies are not really emergencies and do not require middle of the night calls from the ER docs, but he gets them anyway. For instance, if you get in a fight and someone shatters your eyesocket? You can't have surgery right away because the swelling has to go down. Basically, we see them in the office the next day and then send them home to ice it for a day or two before we schedule the surgery. But orbital fractures are pretty serious. You can lose your vision if it's not fixed. And I imagine bone fragments making their way into your brain and stabbing some vital portion of your functioning, but The Good Doctor just rolls his eyes at me and draws me pictures to explain why that can't happen.
One morning, he calls me to tell me we're seeing a patient from the ER. They must have called him the night before. And his answer is always, "Tell them to come in at 10 a.m." And this man walks in right at 10 a.m. He's very polite. Scared and with an obvious facial fracture of some sort. I pull up his CT scans for the doctor and only because he's taught me how to read them, I can tell this is a pretty dang serious fracture - his eye socket is in pieces and shoved under one another and his cheek bone is shattered. "That must have been one heck of a fight" I say. He says, "I didn't see it coming. It was dark and I was trying to go to sleep." It's obvious that this man is homeless. He doesn't smell clean, he is bundled in all kinds of shredded clothes, and his shoes leave a lot to be desired for the snow. And in walks the doctor. He sits right next to him in the waiting room and starts talking to him - where are you from? Why are you homeless? How did this happen? Basically getting his whole life story. Because that's who he is. And because I know the doctor, I know that he will tell the man that he will not charge him for the surgery and not to worry about the hospital bill - that he will take care of that. And also because I know the doctor and that he can't do his surgery right away, I'm on the phone while this whole exchange is taking place, trying to find him a bed at one of the homeless shelters in town. So when the doctor asks me to find him a place to stay while the swelling goes down, I tell him I've got a bed for him. Because I do. The only caveat is that he has to stay sober. I ask him if that's possible. He tells me he's unsure, but he will give it a try. Off he goes. Two days later, he has his surgery, the doctor asks him if he's willing to work because if he is, he'll talk to "some people" about getting him a job at the hospital. Turns out the man was from Minneapolis and wanted to go home, but still.
That's the kind of doctor I work for. A person in need is the best kind of person in his book. And he will do anything for them. He will sit right next to them and make them feel like the human being that they are, giving them respect and dignity and gentle care. And that is why I love The Good Doctor so very much. He has taught me many, many things over the years. And I will miss him dearly when I go.
I've been told "not to cut the umbilical cord" and to "Come back. Often." Because, "I need psychotherapy." Which is what he calls our discussions about life and meaning and what it means to be a human being in this world. And I hope this relationship lasts for a lifetime.