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The Jolly Old Man


By StaringalePublished 3 months ago 3 min read

I rushed to the cafe my long hair hitting me in the face lightly but annoyingly. Greeting the lunch lady who was a sweet old lady, I asked for the freshly prepared chicken baguette sandwich and a fruit bowl - can't forget the fruits. Engaged in a small talk with the granny I watched her prepare the sandwich.

The crunch crispy noise from the baked bread when the knife divided it into two was playing on my anticipation. The lattering of the sauce on the bread followed by the draping of the green salad leaves was like watching a piece of puzzle being put together. The adding of the shredded chicken topped lightly with liquid cheese I wondered what will be the finishing ingredient. And it was the sliced olives that brought it all together. Handing me the finished masterpiece I thanked her and took my lunch tray to the table.

The conversations around me like a humming background music. Biting into the sandwich I savored the artfully combined flavours that danced across my tongue. The savoury lunch beginning was finished by a naturally sweet fruit bowl. Returning the lunch tray to its proper place I headed back to the clinical rotations.

Giving respect to the Professor I sat down accessing the patients coming. Few cases passed in a blur when an interesting patient showed up, he was an old man with jolly expression on his face wearing a high-top hat and bright clothes. The hat immediately reminded me of the Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. Shaking myself from the disney fantasies I greeted the patient warmly and went through the reports since this patient was a follow-up case referred from the cardiac department.

Professor begin asking him questions to fill the gaps in the given information. By the way, he was named Theodore. He was then laid on the bed and the Professor examined him while I assisted. The examination didn't give us any good indications but we waited for the diagnostic reports from the radiology department to come before giving any confirm answers.

The reports were in, taking out the scans and putting it on the white-light-Xray-Film-Viewer just confirmed our suspicions from examination. Theodore was suffering from late-stage sarcoidosis and there were permanent scarring of the lung tissue and fibrosis was prominent. Professor took reigns in discussing the treatment options available knowing that because of the patient's age and previous history of Heart attack and stroke coupled with hypertension and diabetes he couldn't go through with a surgery it will be too taxing on the body.

But Theodore didn't express any sadness the same jolly expression still played on his face there was no regret or sad acceptance. Confused once the treatment was finalized and he was about to leave, I asked about this because my curiosity got the better of me. But he didn't seem to mind giving a deep belly laugh he told me life gives too many reasons to be sad about but it doesn't mean you really have to be sad about it, I have lived my life there are regrets like any other human being out there but when I go home sit on my rocking chair retelling tales of my adventures as a navy man while grandkids hang on my every word with wide open innocent eyes I tell you there is no better thing, and it tells you that your time in this world is drawing shorter so I am happy to live as long as I can then leave with a happy smile when I have to.

Just as he stood up to leave he gave a last message that I think I will probably remember forever,

"Depression in Life is mostly due to your thinking rather than your conditions."

This probably the reason that I look forward to meeting old patients because they have experienced the world that I yet have to and they give this message of wisdom from their experiences that just helps you without you ever going through such an experience.


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  • Doc Sherwood3 months ago

    This portrayal of buoyancy of spirit in the face of bad news is both moving and deeply life-affirming. I must say, the elderly people I've most admired in life have always been eccentric quirky types, just like your patient here. One of my first and most memorable literature lecturers at college even wore a top hat, as he does! Those words of wisdom that stay with us forever really do happen - the old country and western song "We're All Passing Through" is merely the best-known popular recapitulation of this truth. It's a wonderful thing to receive such advice right in the middle of an ordinary day, as you did here. One such instance I'll always remember happened to me quite late at night, travelling home from London on the train, at a time when I was at a loose end between school and university. I started talking to a pair of oldish ladies at my table, both probably retired academics, who said they were very surprised to learn I wasn't studying literature, from the way I spoke. That alone may have helped me put a great deal into perspective, and decide on what I ought to be doing with my life. Then, as the ladies' stop arrived, and they made to get off the train, one of them said to me (and I kid you not, these were her very words)... "Enjoy the rest of your journey." Quite seriously, that will never leave me now! I mean, OK, the set-up was perfect, but even so...! I won't believe any ex-scholar would accidentally stumble into that one. I only hope I can say it myself to somebody young one day, and that it can mean as much to them as it has to me. And just wanted to add - the sandwich at the start sounds delicious!

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