Bedside manner

He pulls up the chair to the bedside, this doctor. He sits quietly, seriously, somberly. He doesn’t move. I think he is letting the room soak into him before he begins to speak. So we wait. Then he does.

He talks about the diagnosis, the details, the surgery. He talks about repair time and discusses the probable prognosis. He does all this quietly, with a not-quite-hushed tone. He responds to questions in this same way. His whole person conveys that doctoring is a serious endeavor in which he regards with appropriate gravity each human life that he touches. It is impressive.

When he is finished, Dr. B looks at her, and then just sits in silence. He waits. This time I think he is waiting for her – us – to speak. It takes a little bit before we realize that this is what he wants, so the room is simply quiet. “Do you have any questions for me”, he asks. We have no more.

He sits a few more seconds, then gently replaces the chair. Now he reaches for each of us by hand, shakes it and says “nice to see you again”. He leaves so much of himself behind that I am not quite sure when he actually left.

This whole experience with doctors and nurses has been an education. Mellow and caring and attentive. I wonder how they are when they are not here. I want to look behind the veil. In ordinary life, my instinct would be to consider them sincere. But when they are like this as their job, is that likely?

I don’t actually care if I’ve got it wrong. This works for me. I am simply happy to see my sister in such attentive hands.

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