I saw a patient who'd had a stroke. His ability to choose his words was ruthlessly robbed from him--and really that's about it. He could understand perfectly but everything he said came out garbled and super hard to understand. Which sucked.
Talking to him was really, really tough. He'd try and try but no one could make out what he was trying to communicate. That is, all but one word. One of his words came out clear as a clanging gong every single time I spoke to him.
What word, you ask? I'll tell you:
Here's what I learned from our encounters: Even if you aren't much of a expletive-user, a lot can be expressed through a perfectly placed f-bomb.
Annoyed by me turning on the overhead light?
Frustrated with being unable to find what you want to say?
Not happy with what's under the cafeteria tray?
Looking for your reading glasses under the covers?
Somebody IS the father on the Maury Povich show?
Need your family to know how you're doing?
Want somebody to know what you think of them?
Turns out that the f-bomb fits the bill. Like 99.2% of the time, man.
I told him that his f-bomb was the best I'd ever heard, even better than my daddy's--which is saying a whole, whole lot. I also told him that he'd turned it into a universal word for any and all occasions. A noun, a verb, an adjective and even an adverb, man. Kind of like "smurf." And you know what? He got that dumb joke and just laughed and laughed at that. He tried to tell me I was funny, I think, but all that came out was the universal f-word instead.
Then he pointed at me and tried to say something. I couldn't really understand so he tried again. When I still looked puzzled he finally just laughed out loud, shook his head, and threw up his hands.
"Fuck it!" he laughed. I laughed, too.
And all of this made me happy because his nurse told me that it was the first time she'd seen him laugh for his entire hospitalization. The first and only time.
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?