Sunday, November 5, 2017

Twenty for Twenty: Number 6

His voice sounded like music. Rolling up and down in these soft, lulling rhythms telling of lands far away from Georgia. It was so beautiful that I had to coach myself not to get lost in it and to, instead, pay close attention to his story.

"It started with a bit of nausea first. That lasted most of the day. The pain in my abdomen and actual vomiting didn't start until that evening. I had been in queue at the grocery store and thank the good Lord that I was able to make it out of those sliding doors."

"You vomited as soon as you got outside?"

"Indeed I did. It was just terrible. I did feel better for a beat but not even thirty minutes later, back it came. I was home by then."

Abdomen. Queue. Indeed. A beat. This was not a native Atlantan.

 Eventually we got to the bottom of it all. A fairly straightforward, albeit inconvenient, case of gallstones complicated by a mild pancreatitis. He had been started on pain medication and was resting his bowels. With that and the fluids, he was feeling better. That's when I knew I could ask.

"You aren't from Georgia," I said.

He smiled. "You aren't either."

"You're right."

"Want to see who can guess where the other is from first?"

My face erupted into a grin at the suggestion. I squinted one eye playfully. "Game on, sir."

He narrowed his eyes and sniffed once. "Big city. Not the south." My eyes widened. "Not a northerner." He looked me up and down and twisted his mouth.

"Caribbean?" I asked. He deadpanned. "Well?"

"Yes. Well sort of. Depending upon who you ask."

"Okay. Then I know."

"I doubt it." He laughed at me when he said that. "California. Los Angeles." My face gave it all away. "Bingo."

"Man," I said. "You're good."

"Your turn."

"Caribbean depending upon who you ask, huh?"


I tapped my lip with my finger for a beat. Then I smiled and nodded. "Guyana, South America. Final answer."

He sat up in his bed and leaned forward to give me a fist bump. The sides of his mouth turned downward and his chin jutted out. I could tell that he was impressed.

And you may wonder how I knew. I knew because I was taught by another patient a few years back.

And I listened.

Within two days he was feeling better and ready for discharge. And in those two days not only did I learn much more about him but more about Guyana, too.

Guyana, South America, that is. Not to be confused with Ghana in Africa. Or French Guiana. Or anything else.

And that's just one more thing I love about working at Grady. Every day we learn something, too. On this day it was geography.



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

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