Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Something to cry about.

Arm folded over his eyes, tears rolling down his cheeks, and body heaving to the rhythm of a beat all its own. "I'm so sorry for crying like this," my patient said. He pulled back his arm, wiped his face hard and looked back up at me with glassy eyes.

I wasn't sure how to respond so I just reached for his forearm and held it. I sucked in a drag of breath and searched for something affirming. "It's okay, sir. Really."

"I want to do so much. I have people I love so much. That's the thing. For me, it's not so much the me parts. It's the me AND them parts."

I swallowed hard and felt words escape me again. I held his gaze for a moment in silence. To break the tension I finally spoke again. "I'm sorry for all of this, sir. I really am. But we're here, okay? And so are you, okay? You ARE here. Right here, right now. And you've got a testimony."

He pursed his lips and started fighting back a fresh wave of emotion. "I'm just grateful for. . ." He tried but couldn't finish his sentence. Up went his arm again and muffled into the crook of his arm were those same guttural weeping sounds. This time, though, they were stronger, deeper. . . almost primal. "I'm just so gr-gr-grateful for . . "

"Take your time," I told him.

"For the. .the . . .the kindness. . .just the ki-hi-hi-hndness." He erupted all over again, his body shaking so hard that he had to grab the bed rail and steady himself. He finally regrouped and tried to finish. "The kindness. From the EMS people to the nurse in the triage to the people in the emergency and now this team . . .I was just so scared and. . . everybody was just so. . .so . . kind." He took a deep breath and blew out hard. "Make you feel so much better when people are kind to you. Especially when you're scared. . . .especially when you scared you might. . . you might. . . ." He put both of his flattened palms over his entire face this time.

And again he wept. Hard.

He didn't even try to finish. And I didn't need him to.

Here's the thing:

Humankind is mostly good, I think. Even at the places where you least expect it--like a "notorious" safety net public hospital. And listen--you don't have to be a doctor caring for folks at Grady to extend unnecessary kindness to people. You don't. I'm learning that our kindness can be the difference between hope and despair. . .. which often become synonymous with life and death.

I will remember this when I am having a particularly crappy day or when I find myself consumed in all things me.


I've seen a LOT of grown men cry at Grady. And what I've noticed is that it is almost always about two things and two things only:

Family and kindness.

And you know? That's something to cry about.


Happy Tuesday.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my. It's kindness that always gets me too. Beautiful post, thanks for the tears :)


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

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