Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The doctor-friend.

When the world turns blue
somewhere after you
I'll just have to handle it
with all I know how to do
I'll write a song about you
how love can't live without you
and every place you touched me
made me feel new

And when we are gone
the song will live on
Some stranger will hear 
and he'll say this is just how I feel,
every line, every moment is true
when the world turns blue..
When the world turns blue

~ from Joe Sample's "When the World Turns Blue"


Here is the message the doctors have given to the family:

"Things don't look good. You should call the family in because it seems like things have taken a turn for the worse."

That is the code that doctors use when trying to avoid those sticky words like death or dying. That feeble attempt to try to make it less wobbly and unpalatable. But it isn't really a code. Because codes are things that someone has to decipher and being one of those family members that just got called in because "things have taken a turn for the worse" takes very little interpretation.

Especially compared to all of the things that preceded it. 

Like, the treatments and the follow up and the prognosis discussions. They were layered between different scenarios and different hospitals and different doctors and different family members. And when you're in one city and all of those variables are in another city, that's a lot of layers. 

So you wonder. Like, how bad are things anyway? Kind of bad? Really bad? On the way to bad? Which is it?

A call to a doctor-friend sort of helps. But not really. Some of it makes sense. The rest, when placed in the backdrop of love's myopic view, does not.

You should come -- now.

But this? This can't be misunderstood. Calling in loved ones suggests something that's far more than kind of or on the way to. Especially when that APB is sent with no regard for how many planes, trains and automobiles will need to be involved. 

Get here. 

So this is a message that a friend of mine was given today. Get here. Come. Now. And we'd talked several times about all of this and how things were and how things could eventually get but all of that is totally hypothetical, really. Even when your doctor-friend is telling you all of this it isn't real until that pseudo-code comes through. The one urging you to drop everything and come -- now.

So she and family got that message and headed there. Including a child who somehow gets that love never dies even though human bodies must. Yes. They took those planes, trains and automobiles because the code was clear and required no cracking.

Things were urgent. Things are urgent. Get here. Now.

And so. Here I am a doctor and a friend. Or better yet, the doctor-friend. The doctor parts were more  in gear through our earlier conversations back when there were codes that needed my expertise to understand but now? No. The doctor is put on ice. No complex information to break down or explain. "Get here" says far more than I can.

I say a prayer while still holding my cell phone in my hand. Wondering if this will count as touching and agreeing. Will it? I don't know.

I send her a message:

How can I be of support? 

That was one of the last texts I sent. It was just a few moments ago. Moments later she responded:

All you can do is keep checking in on us. I appreciate it.

That was her response. 

So now I'm just sitting here. Feeling like I should be doing something like explaining or even straightening up covers. Asking if the room is too hot or too cold or if I can get anybody something to drink. Something. Seeing as I'm the doctor-friend and all.

But tonight I know that my job is to be a friend. To keep checking in as a regular-friend and not a doctor-friend.

And so I will.

Hang up the stethoscope and all the technicalities. Hang up the phone and wait for the part that I wish I didn't know so much about.


Now playing . . . .listen and feel peaceful. I did.


  1. Okay. This is totally inappropriate but I have to tell you a tiny story. When my father-in-law was dying in the hospital his wife and my husband (and his wife was my mother at the time but that's a whole other story) had come to the house for supper, to take a break in the death watch because it WAS a death watch at that point. That good man had been in a coma for awhile, each breath noted and measured, the next one not guaranteed. So, anyway, while my husband and mother were walking back to the hospital which was a few blocks away, a nurse called our house to say that he had taken "a turn for the worse."
    There was only one worse possible at that point. So I asked her. "Worse? What do you mean?"
    A pause.
    "He's died."
    This is when you absolutely have to be able to find the humor in a situation. And even as I cried, even as I got in the car to go pick up my mother and husband to get them to the hospital, I could not help but laugh at the way we phrase things, at the way we try so hard to cushion blows which cannot, in reality, be cushioned.

    1. This particular friend would likely smile at this story as she has a wonderful sense of humor. No, the cushions we think we are putting in place are often ridiculous. Kind of like jumping from a twelve story building and hoping a tiny pillow will soften the blow.

  2. Replies
    1. I know for sure that you do. Of all people, you do.

  3. I promised I wouldn't cry. I lied.

    1. Nerd Girl, you are a very good friend. She has told me this about you. Perhaps the tears honor that truth.

  4. Sometimes just being there is all you can do.

    Love you,


  5. I wish my husband had had a doctor friend when his mother was dying. He didn't get there in time. He didn't really understand how close she was to the end. Her doctor kept saying he could find no reason for her decline, that she should turn the corner soon. My husband never let it in that it was the end, and when he got the call that she had died, well, i think it stunned him. I wish someone had said, come now, COME NOW, in a way that he could take in. We live with such heartaches, I suppose. It is just life. And it is death. I am glad your friends have you.


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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