She walked in slowly, like wading through molasses. I got up and escorted her to the seat across my desk.
“I expected an older doctor,” she said. “I was the head of Central Supplies when this hospital started. We were recruited from the other hospital. My office was across the Emergency Room. So I knew your father very well.”
“What happened?” I asked, as the introductions were over. “What can I do for you?”
She appeared weak, frail, and dehydrated. She has been having bouts of diarrhea for several days. She began vomiting this morning. She had a fever. When her daughter came to visit, she urged her to go to the hospital.
Mandatorily retired more than 10 years ago as she reached 65, she carried a card that allowed her to avail of hospital services at a 50% discount. But having lived longer than ten years beyond retirement, her money had recently begun to run out.
“It’s so hard being old,” she began, “because you’re sick all the time. And it takes an awful lot of money to stay healthy.
I came to you because I recognized your name, and I was hoping to see if you were your father, a friend from long ago. If I wasn’t so weak, if I still could drink or eat, then I wouldn’t be here.”
I completed my medical exam and admitted her right away. Her tests showed some dehydration. There were many pus cells and bacteria in her stool.
She responded very well to hydration and antibiotics. She went home two days later.
I saw her again a week after discharge. She had a spring to her step. She looked healthy again.
“I wish to thank you for everything,” she said. “You took good care of me during my weakness. You brought your cheery smile with you on your rounds. It made me feel better just being in your presence.”
It had been a really tiring week. I was pretty sure I was anything but happy and cheerful. I wondered if it was really me she was talking about.
“Magaling ka magtanim (You plant your seeds well),” she explained. “Sigurado ako madami kang aanihin sa kinabukasan (I’m pretty sure your labors will bear good fruit).
“I knew your father. He was a good man. And I’m glad to have met the son who takes after him.”
With these words, the tiredness and frustrations I carried melted away.