Monday, August 22, 2011


She comes to me. On a cold winter day. Hobbling into the office. She carries her walker with the indifferent embrace of a despised relative. She unpeals the layers. First hat and scarf. Then over sized down coat. Daintily she removes her sweater.

I ask what hurts...and she tells me.

She tells of the serpent slithering through her spine. Squeezing her insides and spitting venom towards the thighs. She tells of mal-lubricated joints and the fecundity of aging.

She tells me of her late husband...and how he was a "good man". Regret dabbles at the corners of her lips...toying with the idea of springing forth but reticent.

She tells me of her mother in law. Handicapped and depressed. A miserable soul who spent a decade cloistered in her guest bedroom. Her voice says....I would never burden my children...although the words will remain unspoken.

And she tells me of a man. Who she dated as a teenager. Who fought in World War II and sent a letter proposing marriage. She still doesn't know why she declined. Although he survived the war....their love did not.

On days like today she often wonders. Is he alive? Alone, arthritic, in a doctors office like herself.

I wait for her to continue. My impotent stethoscope rests in my coat pocket. A cabinet feet away is filled with samples of drugs to cure most any malady.

Today I will slough off the bloated title of healer...drug pusher...fortune teller.

I will sit back. Ignore the light buzz emanating from the computer. Fail to answer the persistent vibration of my pager.

Abandon myself to anther's needs....

and I will listen.


jimbo26 said...

Listening is healing .

Hold my hand: a social worker's blog said...

Wow...A physician that takes time to listen to his patient. A patient physician.

Lovely post!


P.S. Please disregard prior comment, I didn't realize I was signed under my son's account. lol