Wednesday, June 01, 2005

1:42 AM

I swirl the drink in my glass and stare across the room.

What have I gotten myself into?

Walking out of Cuddy's office, preoccupied about the stupid lecture, and walking straight into... into her. Into Stacey. Just as... just as she always was. I make some stupid predictable joke; she tells me she misses me. She tells me she needs my help. And then she shoves films in my hand. Her husband's films.

Why does she still set me off like this? It's been years -- five years -- since she went away. And here I am still getting upset -- sick with longing, sick with surprise -- sick with jealousy, for God's sake -- running away from her, but not before giving her that one last slap about not wanting her husband to live.

And even as I gave the lecture -- on leg pain, of all things; the staph guy and the sarcoma kid and... and the infarction... I couldn't put her out of my mind.

"She loves you; she just can't stand to be around you," James said.

And even as I try to absorb that -- hatred had made way more sense -- that part of my brain that never leaves well enough alone was concluding that Stacey is right and her husband is sick; attaching itself to the puzzle, to what could present with such persistent and subtle symptoms yet leave no trace on the exams, on the films, on the lab results.

Nothing's going to change. It always ends up the same way. I'm still the jerk with the limp and the cane, still alone, and Stacey's gone -- and married, married to someone else.

And part of me wants to hurt her, wants to see her hurt like I hurt. Wants to rub her face into it like she's doing to me. Maybe it's because I can't stand the idea that she has no regrets about leaving, and if I can hurt her it means I still mean something to her. Maybe it's because I'm just a mean vindictive bastard.

But I can't. I think I want to hurt her, I try, but I can't push it too far, I can't, I always relent. I remember the look in her eyes, right before I walked away, and I can't finish the job.

I called Stacey. She's supposed to bring what's-his-name in tomorrow morning. Well, actually today. I look at the clock. I have to examine this guy in a little over eight hours.

I take another drink.


Blogger Sanlin said...

I don't envy you the predicament of attempting to save the life of your ex's *husband.* When you haven’t spoken to her for five years and had no idea she was now married, no less. There's 'above and beyond' and then there's *this* kind of situation, which is *beyond* beyond. I liked the "boy toy" crack, though. ;-) Even gob smacked and caught flatfooted, you're still a riotously funny soul, Doc.

There are some people who will *always* be able to get to us, because they know us intimately and are so far inside our inner defenses there *is* no keeping them ‘out.’ They're part of us. So if they go away, part of our identity and physical reality goes with them. Someone really has to have the goods on you to get the dagger to go in *deep.*

Time? Not linear, remember? Five years, five minutes... Sometimes they seem like the same thing. And, a few seconds can stretch into eons. I think anyone would be *gollywumped* (no, you won’t find that one in the dictionary ;-) ) at suddenly being faced with their ex after 5 years... Especially considering what you've been through, Doc.

Damn brave of you to give that lecture, Doc. Might help the next generation of baby Ducklings coming up and certain gives your own Ducklings plenty to think about. Plus, it's good to know you still have a healthy *fantasy* life. LOL ;-) Makes me want to jump in your time machine and go back and *thump* the attending physicians who treated you like a drug addict, though. Ironically helping to *turn* you into one, years later, from the chronic pain they could have stopped in its tracks. And, as much as everyone wishes it were otherwise, doctors will continue to make mistakes and some of their patients *will* die. But, if your experience helps even *one* doctor 'get it' so that a patient doesn't have to experience what you have, at least that's some cold and impoverished comfort.

It seems to me like you're the one with the blade twisting in your heart, Doc. But, then, I *am* biased in your favor and, as I like to say, "it takes two to tangle." Relationships are messy. It's rarely any one person's fault when things head south. Sometimes, there's no real fault to be found, it's just the way things spin themselves out on the web of life. It's one thing to contemplate revenge, but it's another to practice compassion. You're a good man, Doc, and maybe a better man than some of your patients deserve. One of the things that makes you great is that once you're *on* a case, you'll do whatever it takes to save your patient's life. No matter what it costs you, personally or professionally. And, at times like this, the price tag can be very costly. If *pain* can make us do foolish things, imagine what *love* can make us do...


June 10, 2005 8:26 PM  

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