Sunday, March 18, 2012

Reinterpreting Death

He looked across the shadowy haze, death's mirage a shimmer in the space that interceded between his sickly body and my outstretched hands.

How long do I have?

His words were expected but no less difficult. I took a deep breath and cradled my thoughts before leaning over to speak.

A few days.

His lips parted and attempted to rise above his teeth. He was trying to smile.

I wondered why.

The lung specialist thought decades. His capacity had diminished, but the pulmonary function tests were adequate. If he used his inhalers, he may need steroids from time to time, but he would live to breath another day.

The heart doctor said it could be years. The catheterization showed the blockages were nearly complete, but wouldn't kill him. The sharp pain radiating through his chest could be ignored. He just shouldn't exert himself. Better to take it easy.

The bug doctor had stopped visiting weeks ago. His last consultation noted that all infections had resolved.

And the oncologist refused to give numbers. He optimistically ordered the next round of chemo with assurances that experimental protocols had been promising. He wrote each order with a certain flourish.


A week later, I imagined him smirking as I watched the nurse pull the sheet over his head and prepare for the trip to the morgue. I heard his voice bounce through my mind as if his mouth was still capable of chuckling.

Only you, my own doctor, sold me short. I told you you I'd make it more then a few days.

I couldn't help but smiling as they wheeled him away. He had set out to prove me wrong.

And indeed, he had.

1 comment:

tracy said...

Dear Dr. Jordan,

i am so glad you told him the truth. No one seemed able or willing to tell my Dad the truth so he never acepted it.Or perhaps he was never willing to accept it.

i never tell you this, Dr. Jordan, but i so appreitate every one of your blogs, they are just so beautifully written, i never have the right words to reply.

Bless you,