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Monday, July 27, 2009

THE INTERNIST

THE INTERSIST

He was quiet and reserved, his features consistent with his personality; soft, dark, baby fine hair that fell into short ringlets cut just above his ears. Deep brown eyes hidden beneath long, lush lashes, the kind that won't let any one see into his soul, and pouty lips that accentuate a smile or frown. He stood at medium height, not over weight but had a soft middle. There was no muscle tone flexing from gym workouts or racquetball, and he walked with an ever-so-slight hunch; not proud and erect but cautious and guarded. I would always see him in corduroys and clogs, if not in scrubs, and he often fell asleep in the lounge poring over someone's case history. This was the man I came to know; not at all like the others that came before, usually older men with graying hair, racing about from one meeting to the next, or one golf course to the next, having no time to sit and make small talk. But he always had time; time to become involved with families, siblings, parents, children, me....

I watched him over the weeks I was there, tirelessly making his rounds, stopping to check on patients, not just their physical conditions but their mental health as well. Did the families have everything they needed? Did they have access to all the institutions that could benefit them in this, their hardest time? Was the wife or mother getting enough sleep? His patients were his life, bringing him pictures of their dogs and cats, school friends and relatives; he was an extension of their families. He celebrated birthdays and holidays, their recuperations and even small steps in progress to a better , healthier life. He grieved with them too, in their times of loss or setbacks; this would be his undoing.

Patient after patient would eventually be committed to an internal place in the soul of this young, gifted doctor of internal medicine. Death had become as much a part of his life, if not more than his living. How could a person not want to wrap him in their arms, rest his wearied head in the crook of their shoulder and eradicate his illness, his cancer? So to the industry, he too will die, a victim of that which he fought so hard to eliminate; death. Death comes to us all they say, but for him and his community it will be a different sort, for he will live to see another sunrise and ski down another snow covered alp, just not as a gifted healer; to him this was an oxymoron anyway....

1 comment:

gregfreed said...

I like it; it works with irony and describes his bond with the community fairly well. Where's the rest of the story? ;-p