Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Today I worked in the pre-anesthesia clinic. It is a nice change from OR routine. One of the patients was an elderly woman scheduled for surgery for an obstructed tear duct. She was accompanied by her daughter who acted as translator since the patient spoke only Yiddish.

No words passed directly between us. All communication was non-verbal. Much smiling and nodding. At the end of my physical examination and perusal of the chart I provided the usual explanations regarding general anesthesia. I wished her a successful surgery.

As the daughter was backing out of the room with her mother in a wheelchair, the daughter began a tirade about the long day and the inefficiency of the both the clinic and the ward. I was trying to diffuse the situation but I had trouble concentrating because the mother was vying for my attention. She was smiling as if to say, "Just ignore her, she gets like that sometimes."

Then she stretched out her arm to show me the tattooed number on her arm. She is a holocaust survivor. I nodded in understanding and returned her smile. As her daughter continued her whining, she backed the wheelchair out of the exam room and the mother was smiling and waving to me. In my mind's eye, she was indicating her confidence in our ability to care for her.


Tamar Orvell said...

Beautiful how some people rise above the unimportant and focus on what is. Thanks for the upbeat reminder.

Chrysalis Angel said...

If she survived Shoah, she's was letting you know she can survive what she's going through at that time. She trusted in you.

This is the first time I've visited your site. You have a nice blog here.

Lioness said...

On a trip back from Eilat the lady sitting across the aisle from me had a tattoo as well. I remember the jolt I felt, like History had reached over and grabbed me by the throat. I also felt incredibly privileged, for some reason. You know, she looked so... normal. There is hope after almost anything, I suppose.

[You have the best verification words, this one is trialar - three- winged. Somehow fitting.]

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