August 8th, 2004

White Coat

Still here.

Friday evening.
Grabbing dinner in the hospital cafeteria (free food) I met the Medicine chief.  We talked about my Board scores.  He leaned in and said, seriously, "You could go into ENT, you know, or Derm.  You don't have to stay in family medicine. You'd work less and make more money."  And he meant it, meant what he was saying, believed that my test scores put me above primary care and family medicine.  And nothing, O Best Beloved, could be further from the truth.
I am going to be a family doctor and I am going to heal when I can heal and know when I have reached my limits and I am going to remember that there is no such thing as one human or one profession or one specialty that is better than another.  And I will make a difference, and you cannot sign that paycheck in ink or blood or flesh, O Best Beloved, because I will deposit blood and sweat and tears and draw forth love and hope.

Sunday morning rounds.
Are  you going to practise around here? His girlfriend, from whose thumb I have just squeezed a good half-millilitre of pus and barely scratched the surface, is speaking.  Because you're going to be a wonderful doctor.  And C needs a doctor.
Social Work smiles apologetically, later.  You may just have a way with "difficult patients".  We need people like that.

Morning rounds.  Three patients, quiet, two staying only because it's a weekend and we can't transfer patients out or get Cardiolyte tests.  And C, leg looking better, now on Percocet and Dilaudid and his pain is under control for now, the surgeons are good like that.  Nykki, he greets me, awake at 8 in the morning on a Sunday, where've you been?
I took a day off.  I am unapologetic about it.  They laugh.  One of my good friends came home from Iraq.  I had to see him.  And they tell me how wonderful that must have been, and I laugh, and I agree.  Two of the folk who should be called deadbeats and a young medical student, in complete agreement.

It was more than wonderful.  There is a little piece of my heart that has spent the last more-than-a-year dying every time I hear news of violence in Iraq, in Baghdad, in the places where I know he has been.  There is a piece of my heart that has been dying for over a year, and yesterday one look at his smile and the light in his eyes and it was healed. O Best Beloved, I know my butterfly is safe.
And I love him and he promised he would come back to me and I know that we make promises and life decides we will not keep them, and I have been so terrified, in that little corner of my heart, because if he died, O Best Beloved, if he were captured or wounded or killed I would not be told unless I chanced to come across his name in a newspaper article or on a listing of the lost, I would not know.
But I saw him yesterday, and war has not changed him.  And I love you, butterfly, and I always will.
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