Not the typical day at the office
It was a woman’s voice. Sobbing. Choked with tears. I could barely make out what she was saying. She finally got her name out. I’ll call her Linda. She had been my patient for several years, but the family had just moved south. What’s wrong, Linda?
“My daughter was shot.”
Oh my God! When? Is she OK?
“She’s… she’s… Gone,” sobbed Linda, “It was a couple of days ago… She was at work… At Denny’s.” And the with a long wail she let out, “A man just shot her in the face after she served him.”
I didn’t know what to say. I held up one finger to the patient in my office, the owner of the AccuChek meter, universal language for “hold on one second.” I tried to ignore the person I was with, and focus on the woman with the greater need. She and her family had just left the northern part of our state for the southern part for better work opportunities.
I told her how sorry I was. How I couldn’t imagine how awful it must be. I asked her if she was still taking her insulin. She said she was trying. Taking it most of the time. Then I asked her if she wanted to talk to our counselor. She did. I made her promise not to hang up, then quickly put her on hold and dialed the counselor’s extension, brought her up to speed, then returned to Linda and then transferred the call. I’ve never been more grateful to be a member of a team.
The patient in my office overhead enough to know what was going on. “I heard about that on the news,” he told me. “What’s the world coming to?”
After we finally fixed the meter (turn it on, hold the “on” button down for 4-10 seconds to enter “set mode,” then you can change the date), and he left, I Googled the tragedy.
It’s true. Unfuckingbelievably true.
The slain waitress used to bring her mother to her appointments with me, but sadly, I can barely conjure up her face. But I remember the waitress’s youngest daughter very well.
The little girl played on my office floor with the stuffed animal-like Doctor’s Bag of plush medical “instruments” that I keep around so small children can help me “treat” their parents and grandparents. And she always wanted a Disney Princess sticker. She liked Jasmine the best, as her skin was the color of the child’s skin.
A child who now has no mother.
Even more morbid, I just remembered… I’ve eaten at that very Denny’s with Rio and Debbie.
The world is a very small and very connected place. And sometimes, a very sad place.