After re-starting countless intravenous lines that were blocked, after flushing many urinary catheters that were not working, after writing up long lines of follow-ups in charts, the barely breathing Surgical Interns wanted to hit the bed for a few paltry hours. But there was still a last task to complete before trying to catch some refreshing sleep. With a stash of blank Consent for Surgery forms and a ball-pen, we had to make the rounds of the rooms where patients scheduled for surgery in the morning were supposedly resting. Most of them were in fact waiting for us, anxiously awake, to ask a few questions about the coming procedure. We did not have much patience to oblige. Those were the wild times before the HIPAA guidelines mandated that both the patients and the professionals had to be fully awake and conscious of their decisions.
In a December dawn, a fellow intern approached me at the other end of the ward.
“There’s a woman that refused to sign,” he told me. “She wants the French version.” –
“So what?” I shot back, barely popping my head into the awake state.
-“She knows there’s someone that speaks it…Don’t know how…She’s some kind of VIP from Haiti…Don’t want her family to file a complaint against us… Come on, man!”
With a deep sigh, I snatched the half- filled form from his hands and went to her room. My fellow intern warned me that she looked like an ugly witch with a disgusting mouth. Surprisingly I was greeted by a beautiful middle-aged lady that smiled broadly at me.
-“Come on in, dear,” she said in French. “I was expecting you.”
-“Er…do you know me?”
-“Of course, dear…I picked up your scent the moment I was admitted to this ward.”
She was a member of the Port-au-Prince elite who also dabbled in an “esoteric religion.” She used her powers in a benign way to help abused poor women from settlements ringing the capital, who sought her help in a non-profit institution that sheltered them. If there was a recalcitrant mate that did not heed persuasive ways, she tried other ones. We chatted for a few minutes in such a friendly way as we’d known each other for years.
-“You have a blessing, which is kind of a curse too,” she said. “You’re restless, son of Samonios. Most of your colleagues here toil very hard to reach a comfortable financial position. But you will not be satisfied only by material wealth or a position of power. You are troubled by the meaning of life. You are seeking answers. You pursue the Light.”
-“Oh, dear. I’m in trouble then…No pause? Who will protect me in such a long journey?”
-“Plenty of friends. You’re a people’s person…And you have a special protective halo. But you are not meant to retire and go fishing, like the majority of physicians hope to do. You will continue to wander and search until the very end of your life, mystic wanderer.“
Almost forty years after that fateful day, I am totally convinced that she was right. The very existence of this medical and literary web page is a testament to that prediction. My journey will only end when I finally face, totally naked, Saint Michael at the souls’ scale.
-“Tell me, Mario, what have you done for your fellow human beings during your life?’
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.