A long-term diagnosis

I will need you to give me one more deep breath, Mr Darnby, please.

I wish you'd call me Gunther, Dr Balaram.

The old man sat on the examining table with his shoulders slumped. Apurna wanted to tell him to sit up straight but, as usual, he seemed so sad.

One more deep breath, please.

The freckled and hairy shoulders rose and then dropped again before Gunther Darnby continued the his tale of woe - how his plan to head for California after he got out of the Army ("I had the ticket!") was derailed first by his sister Eleanor's request that he wait two weeks so he could attend her wedding ("to that no-good Roger"), then by his father's heart attack, and later by his mother's breast cancer.

And now forty years -- no, wait! -- forty two years later, I'm still stuck here.

All right, Mr Darnby, I'm just going to test your reflexes with this little hammer.

All I'm saying is be careful where you agree to stay, even if it's just for a little while, or you could end up like me.

While Apurna made notes in Mr Darnby's file, she found herself thinking again about her boyfriend Derek's offer to move her into his apartment ("Just until your residency ends this summer"), her parents hinting about moving to Olathe, about the palliative care fellowship in San Francisco she had yet to tell anyone about.

So, truthfully, how long have I got?

A long time, Mr... Gunther, probably years and years.

Oh god. That's just awful.

Image Clinic by talented flickr user jon|k, used under a Creative Commons license.


Doc said...

I need a drink.

Lee said...

Humans are primarily composed of water.