“But, I’m the patient!”
She met the eyes of a stranger in the waiting room in an oncology center. He was coughing and resting simultaneously. Sick she thought. But in those eyes was his story. What is his story? Should she dare connect with those eyes again?
It was close to four years since she sat in that waiting room. Although it felt like yesterday when she elected to bring her mother to chemo on Tuesdays. The scenarios were the same. Patients, real people, were fighting for their lives, waiting to be called for another prick, another BP, another scan. Fighting. In her mind she’s dared to ask, will the fight be worth it? Her mother is dead. Her fight lasted only seven months. Chemo brain robbed her and like a thief in the waiting room, rituals of treatments became the norm. Mondays, Tues, Fridays chemo. Go home sleep. Try to feel like you but in reality, the fight reminds you that you are sick.
This time, without her mom, she was there with a friend who was undergoing a bone marrow aspiration. Although, she knew it would be difficult to be in that space, she knew she had to support her friend. She didn’t realize that an awakening would happen.
She then listens to the nurse interview the man with the eyes. A big chunk of his story is now being revealed. How inappropriate! He’s taking water pills; his platelets look good but his anemia is the issue. He’s out of breath and they discuss this as well as the swelling in his legs.
She wonders just how much time until he drowns? He’s elderly, alone, and now is floundering. Again, really? In the waiting room? She dares to connect again as he prepares to leave. No connection. He stands, dons his hooded grey sweatshirt with a huge American flag on it, hunches over and very slowly, as though he aches, he walks away. He never looked back.
Another woman out of the blue announces “let me talk! I’m the patient! But, I’m the patient!”