By: Allie Gips, M.D.
Outside they are marching in pink pussy pointed caps while
inside I am in my own power pantsuit: baggy unisex blue scrubs
and a ponytail listening to my patient tell me that it’s not personal
but he just doesn’t trust women, not any of ’em, can’t help it.
And maybe it’s not personal except that a few days ago a patient
tried to kiss me while I sewed up his face and a few weeks ago
this country told me I didn’t really matter and every single day
despite the fact that I wear a giant MD in bold letters around my neck
despite the fact that I strictly introduce myself as doctor
every day someone says hey nurse, can you get me a sandwich?
The EMT walks into the trauma bay and I am standing at the foot of the bed
and the six-foot-tall medical student is in the corner with eyes the size of saucers
because I’m not sure he’s ever seen someone having a heart attack
but who do you think they hand the EKG to? Who do you think they look at
while they tell the story? The medical student holds onto that piece of paper
like it belongs to him and who knows, maybe it does. Maybe it was always his.
I remember being in his shoes trying to fit in trying to learn how care for people
my senior resident took the glasses off my face, said I know
you’re actually hot and just wear these so that people think you’re smart instead.
Which is not the only time someone has said that to me in the hospital.
Anyway. He is my patient and he doesn’t trust women. Never has. Never will.
He kicks the door as he’s leaving and calls all of us bitches.
Outside they hold cardboard signs that say be nice and love wins while
inside we count the hours till change of shift. When it comes we huddle round
the computers to frantically relay information and one of my patients who was
just discharged keeps trying to interrupt and I am tired and annoyed
and I brusquely hold up one finger in her direction. I go to her afterward: what.
She smiles a big slow smile, envelops my hands in hers, says
Thank you, Doctor Allie. God bless you, Doctor Allie. That’s all. Turns out
she didn’t want much – not an apology, not a ginger ale, not a head CT,
not a work note, not even a different doctor with bigger hands and a deeper voice.
She just wanted to say thank you. She waited thirty minutes
on a stretcher in the hallway to hold my hand,
smile warmly, tell me she is grateful.
Nice people make me nervous because I’m convinced they die faster
and nice gestures make me squirm because I worry
they’re about to ask me for pain meds but her hands are so soft
and her smile is so wide and it is all I can do to keep myself from collapsing
against her, burrowing my head in her chest, falling fast asleep
till morning. I don’t believe in God but she, She has blessed me.
That is quite enough.
Resident Author: Allie Gips, MD
Faculty Review: Elizabeth Mitchell, MD