Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Midnight Visitor

The doctor is knocking
He’s asking me questions
What’s he talking about?
(To the tune of Memory, from Cats. Forgive me Andrew Lloyd Webber, Trevor Nunn, T.S. Eliot, and humanity in general.)

I settled into my private room in the University of Alberta Hospital cardiac unit late in the afternoon of December 18. It was an inside room with a large window to the atrium and a clear view to the skylight and the outside world.
I’m not usually fussy or demanding, but I let it be known before I was even in my bed that I had to be fed. The phrase “borderline low blood sugar” is magic.
My nurse, Natasha, was very persuasive with the kitchen and I was soon enjoying a chicken breast. And I mean it. I looked down at my tray and there, nestled innocently beside the cutlery, was a small packet of contraband.
“Hey this the cardiac uni-”
Wait what am I doing? I haven’t seen salt in days.
Salt on my food and no cardiac monitor. My nurse told me where the patients’ kitchen was and encouraged me to walk around.
Around 10 p.m. I was told my medications hadn’t been sorted out yet as there’d been several admissions to the unit that day.
Salt. Freedom. No meds. My own room. I was fine with all that. They weren’t concerned about medication for me. I took it as a good sign.

As the clock joined hands for midnight Dr. Nasser Al-Hajieri knocked on my door.
He was well over 6’ tall, 30-ish, and had a thicket of wild, windswept black hair that teased around the base of his neck and framed his deep, brown eyes. He was a resident in Internal Medicine and he exuded quiet compassion and thoughtful intelligence.
Dr. Al-Hajieri sat on my bed and asked me few questions that I was mostly awake enough to answer.
“You are British? I think I detect a British accent.”
“Umm, no. I’m not,” I said.
“Oh, I am sorry.”
He discussed my heart problem and said something about low voltage.
“So, it’s an electrical problem.” It was a half-question, half-statement.
“Yes,” he agreed. “It’s an electrical problem.”

My eyes returned to his hands many times over our 20 minute conversation. His fingers were long and tapered and remarkably clean. Yes, I know that’s an odd thing to say. He’s a doctor. Of course his hands are clean. It could have been the way the light stuck them, I suppose, but it compelled me to keep looking. His nails were well-manicured, rather long for a man, and smoothed to a blunted point.

He got up to leave, hesitated a moment, and then said, “I see by your file you don’t have any children. Can I ask you why you didn’t have any children?”

So I answered his question and he left. I assumed I’d see him around the unit. I was there six days. I never saw him again.


the Bag Lady said...

Perhaps he called an electrician for you...
The Bag Lady has a house guest. She is quietly and slowly going insane...

Leah J.Utas said...

As long as you're quiet...

Seriously, dfBag Lady, best of luck with said guest.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

df Leah,

I feel as though I was in the room. Nicely written and so very true.

I have been in the hospital a very few times but there was always a few people who questioned me at length. Asked questions I was not used to being asked but felt, under the circumstances, I should answer, and then they rode off into the sunset, never to be seen again.

I half expect that my entire med chart would have turned up on a blg somewhere, except, let's face it, medically I am just not that interesting.


Good luck with the guest.


Leah J.Utas said...

dfTerrie - thank you for the compliment.
I'm glad you're not medically interesting.

Hilary said...

After I read "He got up to leave, hesitated a moment, and then..." I was beginning to wonder if this was going to become a piece of fiction..

the Bag Lady said...

Now that there is no longer any background noise, the Bag Lady can finish her smart-ass comment:
Perhaps he called an electrician for you...and we all know how long it takes to get a good electrician!!
Sorry. It had to be said.

the Bag Lady said...

Oh, and it's not because my house-guest is gone. No, no. He is taking his after-lunch nap.

Reb said...

British accent? See what happens when you speak clearly & enunciate! Do you have a hand fetish? No, don't answer that. I would have asked him if my having had no children had anything to do with the problem at hand! I still would have answered him, but I would have asked that too.

Leah J.Utas said...

Fiction could never outpace the truth, Hilary.

Ah, Bag Lady. Glad your guest is napping.

Reb, Reb, Reb. "...the problem at hand." Nice one.

Holly said...

Did you say, "I got no kids, now go to hell!" Oh wait, sorry, that was BEFORE you made the resolution!

Leah J.Utas said...

You made me laugh, Holly. Thanks.