Accidents will happen

Chad traveled to Chicago to attend a meeting. It’s all he thought about for the past few weeks. I heard him get up at 6 am today and I think I said, “Safe travels.” I can’t remember. It was early and I was still snuggling my comforter in some hazy state of REM sleep. The rest of my day went on as usual: opened the office, saw patients, fed the dog, drank coffee and then saw more patients. At one point I heard Lesley, my assistant, say, “It’s Friday night,” as though she was banging her weekend warrior gong. At that moment I thought to myself, “Yeah, it is Friday.”

So I called my BFF Eric.

“Hey Eric you wanna hang?”

“Sure,” he said. “Come on over Mickey. We’re gonna have a party.”

So I closed up shop, leashed up the dog and strutted down Eighth Avenue wearing my beige suede shoes, one foot in front of the other, until I got to Eric’s door. I rang the buzzer, rode the elevator up and there we were: two middle-aged men ready for big night on the town or in this case, ordering take out and watching a movie. His partner was in Long Island visiting his parents. So we felt like two single girls. At one point Eric said to me, “I need to get a copy of Gotham magazine. I jumped right up and said, “Let’s do this.”

We took to the streets walking up Seventh Avenue and low and behold, Mr. Hoffman decides to take a pee. So I stopped, and then I heard a screech. When I turn around I realized Eric had been hit by an SUV. Time slowed down. Eric got up. I latched the dog leash to a nearby post. I quickly assessed Eric. He’s was in shock, but I didn’t find any overt injuries. Within seconds a fire truck, ambulance and a police car arrived. Various strange people were talking to us. I found myself slipping into the shadows like a ghost. I told myself, “Let the EMS and the police do their job.” The driver, by the way, was wearing an eye patch. Eric refused to go to the ER. So we went home. In his apartment, I iced his back, medicated him with a Vicodin and examined him again. No bruising, no palpable deformity. “Okay,” I told myself. “Your best friend is alive.”

“Safe travels,” I reminded myself thinking of Chad.

Later the pain became too intense for Eric so we headed to Beth Israel’s ER. There he was examined, X-rayed, and assessed for internal damage. Luckily, everything was negative. I called Chad. He made it to Chicago safely. He was nervous about his presentation. So I told him he’ll be great and that I loved him.

At home, I couldn’t fall asleep. I wondered about life. Had I not stopped so that Hoffman could pee, would I have been struck or worse, what if Hoffman got hit by a car? Life is so fleeting. It can end in an instant. I took a sleeping pill and tried to watch an old Katherine Hepburn movie.

Suddenly it was 2:30 and the phone ran. Is Chad okay? No, it had to be Eric.

Service: Doctor this is an intern at NYU. I want to inform you that your patient RB passed away this evening.

(RB had been my patient for many years. I took care of him and his partner.)

Doctor S – Where is his partner?

Service – I’ll connect you.

Doctor S – Ronald is that you?

Ronald – Frank he’s gone. He was having a bad week. I went to get the nebulizer ready, and when I returned to the bedroom, he was gone.

Safe travels, I reminded myself.

I almost lost my best friend tonight. I did lose one of the sweetest patients I have ever known and I can’t make sense of any of it.

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5 Comments

  1. Danh
    Posted August 21, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think you can make sense out of life…just treasure it! 🙂

  2. Posted August 21, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    I love this blog. One of the most profound blogs you have ever written. I love all your blogs, but this one touches on the importance of life. We should not get bent out of shape over minute things, and focus on the most important things, such as family and friends. You still have your partner, BFF, and dog. Thank goodness.

  3. Posted August 22, 2010 at 3:51 am | Permalink

    Sorry u had a bad day. I hope you are feeling better and that Eric is okay.

  4. spinellimd
    Posted August 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Joseph.

  5. Mich
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    don’t worry ive returned safely from istanbul …


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