Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Prodigal Son

I walked into Sarah's room like the prodigal son. Her husband stood above her holding a glass of thick liquids in one hand and a spoon full of pureed food in the other. She lay defiantly on the bed in front of us. Her left arm dangling over the sheets would occasionally move in a semi purposeful manner. Her right side was painfully still.

She looked nothing like the other fifty year olds in my practice. The ravages of cerebrovascular disease had devastated her body. Her mind was clear but her lips struggled through garbled musculature.

I greeted her husband with a firm handshake. A brief flash of relief quickly gave way to a sheepish hesitancy. We hadn't seen each other in a year since he requested his wife's medical records and disappeared without an explanation. I fained ignorance as I stepped passed him and placed my hand on her shoulder. Her lips curved upward in a crooked half smile.

Long time no see, stranger.

I pulled a chair forward in order to keep both husband and wife in view. As I flipped through the hospital chart we caught up on what I missed in the last year.

Her husband's brow had furrowed with new wrinkles since our previous encounter. His hairline had receded slightly farther. His tone was quiet but belayed the struggle and torture of the last few months. There had been a number of hospitalizations. Medicines came and went with many side effects but few benefits.

As I got up to leave I couldn't help but ask what was on my mind since I got the call from the emergency room.

So why did you come back.

He swayed uncomfortably in his chair and then stood up and strode forward. I could see him mentally rehearsing his answer as he cleared his throat to speak.

You see Doc. I don't really believe in what you do. What any of you do. It's all the same to me. God has a plan for my wife and there isn't a thing you or I can do about it.

But're different. You answer my questions. You return my phone calls. And all those other doctors got angry every time they walked into our room.

You are like a breath of fresh air. You don't blame us at all for what has happened.

You seem to actually like Sarah.

1 comment:

Owen said...

Very interesting and well written post and a great blog !