Journey into Medicine – Roses

She was quietly in pain. Silent as she moved her body to the bed, grimacing with tears in her eyes. I helped her up. I looked at her unsure what to say. She reminded me of my mother. With silvery grey hair, she has bought a black knitted hat and blanket from home. We took a series of 6 or 7 hip x-rays. She moved her body the way the tech asked. She was so eager to please. She could barely hold back her tears.

I wheeled her to wait for the hospital porter. Finally, she could no longer hold it in. “Not everyone can do this job”, she said, “I want to thank you for what you did in there. Thank you”. I hadn’t really done anything. The tears began flowing. She had been in and out of the hospital with cancer for the past 18 months. She looked at me, looking for my understanding and said “I do not want to live any longer, I do not want to live with this pain. I just want to be able to say when enough is enough”. I saw her pain and wanted to help her. We talked for a while, I patted her shoulder. She seemed relieved; she just wanted to talk to someone. She just wanted to tell someone she couldn’t stand it anymore. I felt privileged that she told me, she shared her most intimate desire. She was not suicidal or hysterical, she was rational and clear.

I asked her how long she had been in the hospital for,  ‘just three days this time’ she said. She wanted to go home. Her daughter lived one and half hours drive away and would not be here this weekend. We talked about the house she has lived in for 40 years, her garden, and her love of where she lived. I took her up to her room and she was grateful. Climbing back to her bed, she looked happier, no longer alone in her moment of darkness. I do not know what happened to her. I think of her in her garden, enjoying the warm sun, the sweet scent of Jasmine, and pruning her white roses. This is where I hope she is now, and for the rest of her days.

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