Monday, January 26, 2009

It wasn't a time when I new the difference between sick and well. For God sakes I was only nineteen. But the feel of Alex holding onto my arm for dear life made me age quickly. And feel frightened. But unfortunately no more wise

I had gotten the phone call thirty minutes earlier. His fraternity brother saying it was an emergency. To come quick. When I arrived I found Alex. Panicked. Holding his chest. His face was flushed. And he kept on saying over and over again....I'm going to die...I'm going to die.

His roommate sauntered over to me casually with a stupid grin on his face and handed me his car keys. We're all too fucked up! Can you take him to the ER. He then disappeared with the rest of his fraternity brothers into their rooms. And I, towering over Alex, gently tried to coax him off the ground and towards the car parked in the driveway.

His eyes were blood shot. His gait unsteady. His breath smelled of alcohol.

None of this was missed by the nurse checking him in at the front desk. So what did he take...heroine, shrooms, LSD? The truth is I didn't know. And Alex wasn't going to confess. The nurse absentmindedly took his vitals and gestured for us to sit in the waiting room.

Alex began to panic. He grabbed his chest and moaned. He told me his heart was racing. The holding area was empty but a few remaining stragglers visibly distanced themselves from our seats. And so we waited...and waited...and waited until someone came to get Alex and told me to stay behind.

A few minutes later a Doctor beckoned me to come to Alex's bedside. He was agitated and the doctor felt that a familiar face would calm him down. I held his hand as an EKG and blood tests all came back normal.

Eventually Alex calmed down enough to return home. The Doctor gave me instructions and wished us well. As I was leaving he looked over his shoulder...So what are you guys studying anyway? My head slumped forward as my answer came out almost a whisper: Premed.

And now years later I often wonder what happened to Alex. Did he ever become a doctor? And what drug had he taken that day anyway? With the experience of years I realize that Alex wasn't that sick at all. Just scared, inebriated.

And I try to be a little easier on people......

especially in their moments of frailty.

1 comment:

tracy said...

"....especially in their moments of frailty."
i love this piece, i am so glad you were there for your friend and i imagine he will always be grateful for your comforting presence. The last lines remind me of my really sweet Internest...whom i haven't seen in sometime...i truly hope he is still around and hasn't jumped on the "Hospitalist Bandwagon" or something...not that i would blame him, but i had that happen before with another really great Internest and it was so very sad to lose him. i am sure your patients feel the same way about you. You are precious to them and to us. Thank you,