Alone again in a doctor’s office, the nurse says to me, he’ll be in shortly. This room has a large window with cracked blinds which I appreciate because many of these rooms are internal boxes with no natural light.
I’m anxious to see this doctor: this doctor who a couple weeks ago saved my life. I happened to be in his office during yet another near-miss tragedy; this one unique and threads away from something that may’ve not had a return. He rushed me to the ER. He coordinated my stabilization and care. I hadn’t seen him since.
He has results for me: results that we were supposed to go over last time before “the episode.” I’ve prepared myself either way, not knowing if it’s a good or bad thing to be so numb to these sorts of things. All I can think about is how on earth do I thank him. The doctor-patient relationship at this level is such a unique one. Truth be told, I want to leap from this chair and squeeze his neck as soon as he opens the door and allow myself to gush out every feeling I have whist probably weeping with something beyond gratitude…but I suspect that’s inappropriate.
I’ve brought a book with me: “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman. It’s been years since I read it. Truthfully, I hadn’t remembered much from it…it being an assignment in high school I think, before I was diagnosed with anxiety, OCD, and ADHD and just suspected I was dumb or crazy but teachers still called me “gifted” and placed me in “gifted” programs where I got to leave the normal classroom to do creative things which only added to the pressure of performing but somehow I was still never good enough … So un-medicated and unable to focus on anything (or hyper-focus only on a single thing, depending on the day), I scraped along by the bare minimum of everything and thus missed out on properly digesting things like assigned books at the time. I’m slowly going through it now though. What a different experience.
“He drags the dead out of their coffins and stands them again on their feet… He says to the past, Rise and walk before me that I may realize you.” — this quote from only a handful of pages into the book. I pause on it, here in this doctor’s office waiting for him to come in. Whitman is talking about “The Poet” and although I can’t remember and certainly don’t know off the top of my head what that’s representing (if anything), he drags the dead out of their coffins and stands them again on their feet. I stare at those few lines, bewildered.
Knock, knock. The doctor comes in.
I don’t leap from my chair and squeeze his neck, but my heart does surge into my throat, the emotions so great I nearly choke. “Hey doc,” I say, closing Whitman and tucking him into my lap. Doc asks what I’m reading and I tell him. And then for some reason, I flip the book back open and read him the quote.
“He drags the dead out of their coffins and stands them again on their feet… He says to the past, Rise and walk before me that I may realize you,” — it’s got me in a trance, doc, it’s hit me right in the bread basket I say to him (in so many stuttering words). He tells me he remembers reading Whitman long ago, but it’s been a while. Same, I say.
We recap “the episode.” Discuss the hospital notes. And finally the other results. I realize at this point, I’ve got the paperback Whitman curled up tight like a small newspaper in my hands. Then there’s a long silence and finally he says, “do you have any questions for me?”
And tears start rolling down my face. They’re gathering on my face mask and as I’m wiping them away, feeling like a small child I say, “I’m sorry.”
He stands, grabs a box of tissues from the counter that also has the container of cotton balls and long q-tips then sits back down in the chair adjacent to me, hands me the box and says, “don’t be sorry, this is not your fault.”
Like Whitman’s quote about the dead, I pause on this, bewildered.
“Don’t be sorry, this is not your fault,” he said. I just stare at him, surely wide eyed, and for how long, I don’t know.
Knock, knock. You’re still in the doctor’s office.
Like the book, I fold myself up and ask some questions. We discuss what needs to be discussed and as we stand, I thank him for…well all of it…and with a stack of papers and new orders in my hands, I leave his office.
In my car out in his parking lot, the sun shining through the windows, I fully surrender. I break. I let free the log-jam of feelings built up in my throat and I sob an epic sob. “Don’t be sorry, this is not your fault.” Perhaps I’m not as numb as I thought I was.
With a single statement, I think I’m stood again on my feet.
I am realized.