Merigian Studios


Transitions and Dreams

Transitions and Dreams

Transitions. As morning arrives, the sun slowly climbs above the eastern horizon, reaches its peak mid-day and falls slowly below the western horizon to welcome the night. Such is the pattern of Mother Nature. Mankind belongs to nature, therefore our personal transitions in and out of health and relationships take time. Sometimes change may take years.

A decade ago, a woman entered my office suffering from chronic fatigue. She was in her mid-forties, was a bit thin and gave off an odor of oil of clove. She walked with a cane. She was polite and courteous to all of our staff. She, as most of our patients, had to wait almost an hour to see me. She was patient.

As I entered the examination room, I noticed she was reading a book she had brought. I cannot remember the title of the book, but it was a mystery novel. She laughed about having very little mystery in her life, so she read mystery novels to help her cope with her chronic unrelenting fatigue and disabling health.

We chatted a bit. She was originally from New York State, the Buffalo area. She was raised on a farm in what she referred to as the middle of nowhere. She could not wait until she was eighteen so she could set out for the big city. She lived in New York City for a period of time. She worked two jobs just to make ends meet as she lived her dream. But as we dissected her dream, it was apparent that it remained a dream. All of her reasons for going to New York City were just excuses to leave her small quiet town. She could not afford to eat in the finest restaurants, see the newest Broadway shows, visit the movie theaters or even attend any galas. She worked almost all the time and went to school at night to get a bachelor's degree in Journalism. After ten long years of living the dream, she started to feel tired.

When she received her degree, her next adventure was to find a job. All she could find was a technical writing job at Fed-Ex. She decided to take the job and move to Memphis. She vowed to return to New York and do the things she promised herself when she left her small home town.

Fed-Ex was good for her. She fit into her department, and had very little conflict with the other department personnel. Although she had a salaried position, it was not uncommon for her to work twelve hours a day as well as taking work home to finish at night just to stay on schedule. She ate when it was convenient, paid very little attention to both her physical and emotional needs and ultimately woke up one morning with extreme fatigue, body aches and memory loss. She was in her early forties when the catastrophe hit.

She tried to heal herself with every over the counter supplement, essential oil, massage techniques and visits to energy healers. Her illness just worsened. Local physicians labeled her with depression and Fibromyalgia, so they prescribed antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. She applied for disability and was granted it on her first try. She had given up on her long time goal of returning to New York.

As I started to look over her test results, it was apparent to me that she had several interlocking disturbances that were making her ill. Over two hours, I explained her problems, each separately and then together. She followed the discussion for about twenty minutes and drifted into space. The expression on her face changed from hopeful to desperate. She had a panic attack. We took a break for a few minutes as she composed herself.

When I returned, I outlined each and every step she needed to take to resolve her fatigue. She listened. When I finished, she got up from her chair, grabbed her cane, put on her jacket and said, "Thank you. I can't do any of this. This was a waste of my time. How much do I owe you?" I sat back, thought for a minute, "Nothing. If I wasted your time I'm sorry. Really sorry." She turned around, grabbed the treatment outline and limped out to her car. She was devastated. I was sad for her.

Over the next year, I saw more patients with mysterious diseases and chronic ailments that no physician in Memphis could treat. Countless hours were spent caring for the infirm who could not find any doctor to prescribe a medical treatment for their ailments, much less a proper comprehensive therapeutic plan. I forgot all about the woman who had a dream and walked out of my office without a prayer.

Eighteen months passed. I was in a hurry that day, so I just picked a chart out of the rack on the door and walked into an exam room. As I made my way around the desk, I recognized the woman in the patient's seat. But I could not place her. She smiled, "You don't remember me do you. I came in here a year and a half ago. Sick as shit." I looked as if I had seen a ghost, "No. Who are you?" She laughed. "I have this form for you to sign. It's a form to release me from my Social Security disability. I'm fine now. No cane. I'm headed to New York again. So if you'll just sign it. I won't take up any more of your time." I could not just sign it. I looked at her chart, read through my notes and realized who she was. "What happened?"

She replied, "That day I saw you, I was overwhelmed. My emotions got me. When I got home, I cried for several hours and fell asleep. The next morning, I found your treatment record on my kitchen table. One by one I made the changes, took the medicines you wanted me to take. But I did it very slowly. Your two week plan took six months. But after the second stage, I started to heal. And now I'm perfectly fine. I took a job to see if I could work without getting sick. I followed your advice about taking time to recovery from work. And it worked. So. Thank you. Please sign the paper. I don't need the government to help me anymore. I can make it on my own."

I sat for a minute to gather my thoughts. The woman I thought who gave up on herself didn't. She wanted me to be the one to declare her alive and well. That doesn't happen very often. I reached over, read the form, signed it and gave it back to her.

She then reached into her purse, pulled out five hundred dollars in cash and gave it to me. "I'm sorry I didn't pay you the last time I saw you. This is for you. It's a little extra. Figured I owed you some interest." She smiled, got up, put her jacket on and walked out of the office. I sat in my chair with five hundred dollars in my hands, wondering what will happen to her in New York when she arrives. I hoped she would live her dream; she never gave up on it.

I got up from my desk, gave the money to our business manager and walked to the next room to see a new patient. As I walked through the threshold, I thought to myself, transitions and dreams, they must be connected somehow.

"Good morning, I'm Doc. Sorry I'm late. And it's never okay to be late."

Posted by Amanda Sanders at 9:57 AM
Share |