poured out before bed
Like little white-coated ducklings we trail our new attending, staying close so as not to be washed away in the torrents of wheeled health care equipment and rounding medical teams. He stops in front of a room at the end of the corridor and smiles his winning smile.
“I really want you all to follow me on my bedside rounds today. People like having me as their doctor in the hospital – I have pretty good bedside manner. And please feel free to ask questions and practice your physical exam.”
We nod appropriately and wash our hands as he knocks.
The hospital room is dark, an old episode of Home Improvement playing softly on the mounted TV.
“Mr. Jones? Good morning Mr. Jones, it’s Dr. Smith.”
Dr. Smith sits down at the bedside chair and slowly brings up the exam lights. A white-capped 90-something lies motionless in bed, his edentulous mouth agape, snoring softly.
“Mr. Jones, good morning.” Dr. Smith rubs the patient’s arm kindly.
Mr. Jones stirs a bit, gives a diminutive snort.
“Mr. Jones, can you open your eyes for me? It’s Dr. Smith to see how you are doing.”
Our little patient is still a moment longer. Then, suddenly, his gray eyes fly open and he fixates on the being sitting so close to him.
“Gaahhh-waaaah!” comes a combination cough and cry. A frail arm flies out at shocking speed, a perfect left hook landing soundly on Dr. Smith’s cheek.
Dr. Smith stands and holds his jaw.
“Well…perhaps my bedside manner isn’t what it usually is today…” he chokes, his laughing eyes wide.