1/
Virgo Season

Grady Hospital, September 2018

This diagnosis is messed up. Totally, completely messed up. It makes you have to endure excruciating pain--physically and emotionally.

Day after day after day.

Yup.

Disfiguring. Relapsing. And almost nothing in your control.
2/
"I'm a person who used to stuff not working out. 'Cause for me it never do."

That's how you described your every day life, filled with curious eyes craning in your direction but then darting away like they didn't see. But they see.

Of course, they see. How could they not?
3/
You hadn't smiled once the entire hospitalization. Not once. And to make matters worse, on this day you'd spent the entire day waiting for a procedure that called for you to have nothing by mouth.

NPO.

Then it got delayed.

You went OFF on me the moment I walked in.
4/
Me: "Hi--"
You: "Hi? Hi?! I ain't ate shit ALL DAY! It's almost 2pm!”
Me: “Sir, I'm so sorry.”

You rolled your eyes and sucked your teeth. Hard.

You: "I bet YOU ate since midnight." *mumbling* "This some bullshit."

I sighed and nodded. Because honestly? It was.
5/
You: *pointing* “I tell you one got damn thing--they BET not postpone my test to tomorrow. Y'all ain't sticking me with NOTHING on my birthday, you hear me?"

My eyes flung open. Your birthday? I scanned your armband.

Damn.

Me: "Hey, a fellow Virgo!"
You: *nothing*

Sigh.
6/
Me: "I’ll find out right now about your procedure. I'm so sorry about you waiting so long and being hungry."
You: *nothing*

Turns out that an emergency happened. Your procedure got bumped. After being NPO all day.

You shrugged.

You were used to stuff not working out.
7/
Me: "They said that they could take you first thing in the morning."
You: "So much for 'Virgo season.'"

More mumbling. More expletives.

Me: "Let me look into getting it pushed to the next day, okay?"
You: "Nah. F it. Just let me go on and get it over with to feel better."
8/
*silence*

Me: "Hey, why don't I bring you something to eat for your birthday tomorrow?"
You: *nothing*
Me: "Tell me what can I bring for you?"

You were silent at first. Then came an imperceptible raise of your left eyebrow.

You: "If I could have whatever I wanted?"
9/
Me: "Yeah. Like, don't say Peter Luger's Steakhouse."
You: "Peter who-ger?"
Me: *chuckling* “It’s this really good steakhouse. But that's in New York so that ain't a option."

*thinking*

Me: "Know what else? Our whole team won't eat after midnight with you. Okay?"
10/
For the first time in the whole time I'd been caring for you, I saw the corner of your mouth turn up in a tiny smile.

You: "Shit, I bet your whole team gon' be calling to get me rolled in on time then."

You sniffed out a chuckle.

Me: "Ok. So what's the birthday order?"
11/
You stared at me incredulously. Then you shook your head and smiled.

You: "I'm not a fancy-type guy. Give me a Burger King Whopper? With Cheese? Maaaan." *rubbing hands together* "Ain't NOTHING like a flame-broiled Whopper!"

Now you were squinting your eyes for emphasis.
12/
Me: “Wow. I haven't had one of those since I was 40 weeks pregnant with my second son. Ate it right there in the drive thru!"
You: “Please tell me you got some onion rings and a shake with it?”
Me: "I think I just got the Whopper."
You: "Aw doc, you tripping!"

*laughter*
13/
You: "Ain't complete without the onion rings and the vanilla shake!"
Me: *smiling* "Yeah?"
You: "You GOTS to dunk the onion rings in the shake, doc!"
Me: *laughing* "Yeah?"
You: "OH yeah."

That made me smile big and wide. And finally, it made you do the same.

Finally.
14/
As promised, you went for your procedure early the next morning. We saw you on rounds--all of us still NPO--and all was well.

Then we got busy. Super busy. Around noon, mid-admission, I remembered my promise.

Shit.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

So much for Virgo season.
15/
We were on long call. And the reality of physically being able to leave Grady to go to ? That was a no-go.

Shoot.

My interns even looked on UberEATS to see if that might work but we knew the vanilla shake would be melted by the time you got it.

Damn.
16/
I walked to the cafeteria to get you something else. I knew you’d be fine with it. Or even with nothing but an apology.

You were used to stuff not working out. Remember?

The plan was grab you a slice of pizza as a backup. But right when I got to the door, I froze.
17/
It was your birthday, man. And stuff should work out on that day.

I took out my phone and stared at it. Then, I texted my husband and said I urgently needed his help. And no, this is NOT the first such text he has received being married to me.

Or even the 400th.

Nope.
18/
But lucky for me, my busy non-physician husband is always down for the alley-oop when I really, really need his help getting the ball through the net.

Which is exactly what happened.

No details shared. No privacy compromised. Just a dope assist for a buzzer beater.

Yup.
19/
And so.

On this day? You got to have it your way with just what you asked for. A flame-broiled Whopper with cheese. And some onion rings, too.

Oh, and a vanilla shake to dunk them in.

And it was still cold.

#illeatyouupiloveyouso #amazinggrady #morethantheminimum

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26 Sep
1/
#HumanismAlways, Day 4

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#HumanismAlways, Day 2

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3/
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1/
#HumanismAlways, Day 1

Right of refusal.

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*silence*

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He shook his head again. Hard.
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1/
I can’t say I always had an illness script for your concern. But back in 2013? I acquired one—for sure.

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Yup.
2/
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11 Sep
1/
I was on the elevator at Grady. A disheveled gentleman stepped on with wild eyes and matted hair. His hands were waving frantically.

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Me: *chuckling* "Uh, okay."
Him: "I ain't lying!" Image
2/
I'd heard it all on the Grady elevators. But something about his breathlessness and gesticulating hands should have made me slow down.

Before I could respond, the doors pinged open on my floor.

I walked to the clinic shaking my head. Then I saw the crowd.
3/
A crowd of patients, staff, and healthcare team members were all staring up at the 20 inch television mounted in the waiting room. Against a perfectly blue sky, there stood the twin towers--one of which had a plume of thick black smoke pouring from it.

And then--this.
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