She was my last patient on rounds that morning. As I discussed the plan for her care, I helped her re-plait her hair since this hospitalization seemed to be lasting longer than either of us expected it would. Just as I did, my intern, with the permission of the patient, snapped this photo. I dismissed my intern off to conference shortly after that and continued talking to my patient while doing her hair.
We talked about music and marriage and children and grandchildren. We talked about weather and womanhood and whether or not Beyonce's parents got into an argument over naming her that around the time that she was born. "Wish my husband would come at me talkin' 'bout some, 'Let's name our baby BE-YON-SAY!' What kinda name is that anyway?" That made me chuckle and shake my head. As for the whole lip syncing debacle, she could care less about that. "Her voice sound kinda shrilly if you ask me." She shrugged when she said that. And I laughed out loud because I wasn't sure if shrilly was even a word but that didn't matter because I knew exactly what she meant. Her kids had all grown up and were gainfully employed. Doing well and living their lives and still making her proud. So I asked her what the secret was. To having your kids come out like that and she turned her head back to look me in the eye.
"Just love them," she said.
"Just love them?" I repeated.
"Yes. Just love them. Be around them and tell them no when they need to hear it. Best thing you can do is just to love your chil'ren. And make sure they know you do, too."
I carefully braided the last one to the end of its full length. After placing the comb down on the tray table, I asked if she needed anything else and she said no. So I told her I'd be back later and she said that was fine.
And I did come back later and it was fine.
So that was that. And that was this. Because this is Grady.
Happy Saturday. That moment reminded me a little of this one.
Honestly? I write this blog to share the human aspects of medicine + teaching + work/life balance with others and myself -- and to honor the public hospital and her patients--but never at the expense of patient privacy or dignity.
Thanks for stopping by! :)
"One writes out of one thing only--one's own experience. Everything depends of how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give."
~ James Baldwin (1924 - 1987)
"Do it for the story." ~ Antoinette Nguyen, MD, MPH
Details, names, time frames, etc. are always changed to protect anonymity. This may or may not be an amalgamation of true,quasi-true, or completely fictional events. But the lessons? They are always real and never, ever fictional. Got that?