The vaccuum just turned off. I turned in my prescription pad and loaded up the computers, picked up my all-purpose valise filled with confusing information about a vast array of projects. We were finished with another night at the Free Clinic.
"Dr., there is one more patient back there. She just got here." I looked back the hallway, put down my case, found the prescription pad, put the stethoscope around my neck and walked down the hallway. A door was closed and I could hear voices. I knocked and entered to find our nurse taking the blood pressure of the patient. (Yes, I was pressing the clock a bit since the pharmacy where patients filled our prescriptions was closing in twelve minutes).
I recorded the blood pressure as the nurse stated her findings. She was done with her part. I read the reason for the visit and saw the list of six prescriptions requested, plus the two problems on top of the four chronic diseases. Plus the 8 months since the last visit at which the patient agreed to get a lab test one month later. Where had she been? This could be challenging to beat the clock, if it was in play for the patient.
How can we help you tonight? "I need my refills"
(OK, I sometimes get irritated when patients say that. I practice medicine and prescribe medications if indicated. Pharmacists give refills, I write prescriptions- a difference of some importance to me.)
"What kept you away? We haven't seen you since last summer."
"Two jobs. Prison. Court orders, daughter is in prison again for 30 days. She gets violent with me, but I'm all she has. She's only 16. I don't know what I'm going to do."
"How do you cope?"
"I pray. I work"
"Who loves you?"
"I guess my daughter does."
She was overwhelmed and near empty, but still human. Someone loves her. a someone who beats her occasionally, but a someone.
Hearing the story unfold, I listen for hope. I ask about hope. In her medical record she listed her religion as Christian.
I silently pray, "God we need help. In the name of Jesus, please touch her heart with your love. Please touch her daughter with the healing power of your love."
"And thank you, God, for bringing this woman here tonight to remind us all why we have the Free Clinic. Please help us to show your love for her as one of your children. Thank you for loving us as you have and leading Mary Ann Stone, RN, our "Founding Nurse Mother" (now leading from Heaven) to found this clinic."
I quickly examine her and write the prescriptions, all of which are indicated for her chronic conditions and situation.
"You're showing your daughter a Mother's Love and God's Love. You're doing your best. That's all you can do. Thank you for what you're doing and what you're being. God Bless You."
We clarified the prescriptions and her time frame for getting them filled and options for follow-up visits.
She smiled. She left.
I cried for her. I cried with thanks that we can relay God's message to people like her and for the Hope that seemed present from the Creator of us all. God is a great Free Clinic worker.
The names, dates, genders, exact circumstances, etc. of any references to patients are shifted to prevent identification of individuals.