We discover that our hero is a doctor at Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, though due to economic problems, not much teaching has been done there in quite awhile. The man with the cane appea...
Note: Don't own them, wish I did! And remember, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Rain. Why does it always seem to sooth my spirit, if I even have one? I waited at the bus stop this morning in it, alone thankfully, just letting the rain cleanse me, baptize me, to a day that is fresh with despair. I sat on the bus alone, hugging my newspaper on the way to work and later sacrificing it as an umbrella to dash in the sudden downpour the block from the bus stop to work. Thankfully, I had a dry set of clothes in my locker there.
It was nice to be alone for a change. I spend my entire day around random strangers whom I pretend to know, and thanks to the paper I usually have in front of me, usually succeed in doing. I used to love people until my husband's death, then, I just tolerated them. Now, and because of the time I did spend in med school, I have gradually learned to despise them. However, that morning, I was just grateful that I did not see the man from the bus stop. He frightened me, and I did not know why.
"Morning. How's that new apartment working for you?" my coworker looked up from the desk where she sat, the pink of her shirt radiating up and warming the lobby area where we were.
"Pretty good, it's an old neighborhood though, and to be honest, it seems as if the halls are haunted."
"Good chance of it then," she handed me a file and told me where I was assigned for the next ten, fifteen minutes of my day. "By the way, where is your new apartment?"
"Oh, 221B Baker Street. You should come by sometime."
"Address sounds familiar, but I don't know why. By the way, good luck with that chart, he seems to be a crazy. Possible drug seeker."
"Wonderful," I was being sarcastic and I knew she picked up on that as she was better at it than anyone else in this hospital. "Thanks Brenda."
I looked down at the file. Unexplained leg pain. Thinking of that symptom always made me remember a class I had in my first year of me school on diagnostics. Don't really remember much about the class, except the guest lecturer who taught it one day was completely different from any other teacher I had in my life. Discussed three different people with three different causes of leg pain. He himself walked with a cane. He was one of them. Too bad I don't remember his name.
I looked back at the file; Brenda had managed to take a rather sketchy history but had still completely missed the patient's name. I turned back to the desk to question Brenda, but she had momentarily disappeared. Instead, I put my hand in my pocket and pulled out my cheat sheet of psych doctors as a quick reference in case I needed to call one. My first real crazy.
I knocked on the door, entered, and introduced myself without looking up from the chart, which had been a huge mistake. When I did look up, the man with the cane from the bus stop sat in front of me.
"Good thing that it's a /clinic/, otherwise I'd never be able to afford it, /Doctor/!"
I sighed. Was this man stalking me? First, the bus stop for nearly a month, then he's talking to me there, and now he's followed me to work? "Did you follow me here?"
"Finished reading the Sports section and wanted Arts and Entertainment next." He winked and spun his cane around in the air in front of him. I stared at the man in disgust, and before I could say anything he cut me off. "Relax Doc. I'm not stalking you, this is the only free clinic left in the county. The others died out ages ago. Besides, it has a history for me."
"How are things going, Mister?" I was trying to trick him into giving me his name.
"Just call me SpongeBob today Doctor," he paused and I tried to hide my hospital ID quickly as I tried to hide my small smile at his choice of a name, "Livingston. Nice name, has good flair."
"Look, I'm busy. Can we get on with it or should I just call psych right now?"
"Hear me out. My leg hurts, and it's worse now than it has been in awhile."
"It's raining out and a cold front is coming it. Your arthritis is flaring up. Have some Tylenol." I handed him a small sample bottle of the medication, hoping this would buy him off.
"So you're not going to look at the leg? I'm no doctor, or maybe I am, but you should probably examine me first." The man gave an innocent look at me and gestured down to his leg. I moved back the paper blanket Brenda had laid over it and saw an old faded scar over a large indentation.
"What happened to your leg Bob?" I sat on the examination stool, knowing this would probably take more time than I was willing to put in. I had my own patients in my own department I needed to attend to before they died. My colleagues and I had been working a rather difficult group of cases that looked like food poisoning, but no lab test would confirm that diagnosis.
"Well, I had an infarction about fifteen years ago. You do know what that is, right? You look younger than I thought you were. It had gotten better after I left my job, but now it's acting up again."
I continued through a physical exam, noting a limited range of motion and increased pain upon flexion. The patient claimed it was an eight on the pain scale. "Well, it looks like it's probably just arthritis, judging by your history and age. However, I'd like to schedule an MRI just to be safe. Your file has no address on it, where do you live?"
The man's face changed from a look of prodding suspicion to pain and torment, signaling to me that he was just another unknown person trying to survive on the streets of Princeton, nothing more. In actuality, he probably just wanted a hot meal, a warm bed, and a good night's sleep. "Bob, I'll admit you for the night, run some tests tomorrow morning, and send you on your way."
The expression on his face turned back to one of benevolence and he smiled, "Will you be my doctor?"
"That's not my department. Orthopedics will be taking you on."
"Where do you work then?"
With that, I exited and handed the file to Brenda, instructing her on the admissions for the newest patient at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, not that much teaching was being done anymore with the university having gone bankrupt three years ago. But that was life, and life went on.