I spent over 20 minutes talking with an Urgent Care patient today.
This isn’t exactly strange, since sometimes patients (and their medical conditions) are complicated, requiring more than the unofficially-alloted “goal” of 4-8 minutes per patient visit. But this patient’s visit wasn’t complicated; she just needed something for a rash.
I just… couldn’t pull myself away from her. From everything she is.
She’s 70-something, and looks 90. It’s the cancer in her body which makes her look so worn-out, so frail, so cachectic. She’s 70-something, looks 90… and behaves like a plucky college graduate with a golden future and limitless potential, her quick smile and bubbling laugh making the minutes of our visit flash by.
I couldn’t pull myself away.
I just sat there, listening to her prattle on, looking at photos on the cherished iPad that she totes around with her — photos of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and a black-and-white shot of her and her (now deceased) husband on their wedding day. Every moment I spent in her presence made me feel happier, younger, more real, more grateful for my life’s blessings big and small.
Her most-recent oncologist’s note indicates a level of metastatic cancer which will likely kill her in the next few weeks.
She kept talking about her plans for next spring: the new flower garden she wants to put along the south end of her property, the yearly Spring Break trip with her children and grandchildren. I bit back any comments, smiled, listened. I managed to smile the whole time.
Nobody with that much positive attitude, cheer and downright grit could possibly die before her lilies bloom… could she?