Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Morning

The day stretched ahead of me, hours to savor a slow-day's activities interspersed with some work. I sat in the early morning sun with my bowl of Kashi, glad to let my mind lull with idle, disjointed thoughts. I had a bad night of sleep, awakened repeatedly by phone calls, nurses on the other end with queries that demanded quick responses: What did I want done with a patient with kidney failure, whose blood pressure was rapidly plummeting? At two in the morning, I rubbed my eyes and gave the nurse my answer.

My call night was now over and it was only as I ate breakfast that I felt the tension in my shoulders ebbing - a taut coil of wire slackening its grip. I permitted the state of expectant hypervigilance of the night to lapse into a delicious torpor. No more need for reflex-speed retorts, solutions to late night medical crises. My mind gladly slowed down, and I tasted the mild sweet crunch of the grains, the succulence of a raspberry. E would be coming downstairs soon, and I stirred myself to make us tea. A pot of a deep Chinese green would be nice today, I thought. Something floral and sweet, and I chose the Organic Hongqing Special.

The kitchen table cleared of breakfast, we settled in our chairs while the tea brewed. The week-old spray of flowers in the vase were frayed at the bottom. But the once tight buds towards the top were still blossoming. The vase held a curious mix of senescence and youth all sustained by the water that I replenished daily. The timer went off noisily after four minutes, and I poured the tea into our cups. We sipped and remarked on the floral notes, a pleasant discovery each time we drink this tea. The cats came by for their morning nuzzles and coos which they duly received. Satisfied, they loped side by side from the kitchen and settled on their self-designated armchair in the living room (now with a furry, tawny patina) for an early morning nap.

E and I parted for the day, and I got on my bike for the monthly visit to see my nursing home patient. The bike trail stretched from near our home to downtown where she lives. The sun peeked through the leafy trees arching over the trail as I biked, passing commuters in their shiny Spandex get-up.

My patient was in a good mood. Her recent cataract surgery was a success. She smiled as she remarked on the clarity of my facial features which were a nebulous jumble to her last month. She showed me a photo of her 20 year-old grandson, a recent college graduate, now sporting a jaunty goatee. She crinkled her nose and said she wished he would shave the darn thing off. She had shown me, throughout the years I have known her, pictures of him, and I caught glimpses of his life as he grew up. Here he was, boyish and straight-backed in his Scout's uniform. Another picture showed a studious high school student, in glasses and clean-shaven. And now, he is a confident college graduate with his pretty fiancee at his side.

I lingered after examining my patient, sensing that she did not receive many visitors. We said goodbye only when a nurse's aide came to take her to a bingo game in the TV room.

A short bike ride took me to a teahouse where I like to stop in after visiting my patient. The loose leaf teas were stored in air-tight glass jars, arrayed on shelves behind the counter. I imagined myself in an herbalist's den-cum-headshop as I brushed past dreadlocked twenty-year olds and aging hippies.

I sipped a cup of the White Pekoe, listed as a rare tea on the menu. The brew was reminiscent of the Silver Needles, another white tea, mild and faintly-honeyed. I sipped the tea and caught up on my journal reading. Soon, it was afternoon, and I left the teahouse to the strains of Purple Haze. 'Scuse me while I kiss the sky..


Anonymous said...

This story brings me to the life of a doctor and I'm having fun imagining what it would be like to always be working to save lives. It must give a feeling of righteous pleasure to do these things, to stand for them. I feel it must be a spiritually benign occupation, knowing you've warded off death for yet another patient with just a petty interruption to your sleep. --Jason

Cha sen said...

I do feel pretty fortunate to be able to practice medicine, be a small part of my patients' lives.

Thanks for stopping by.