What Will Not Caring Feel Like?

by Simon Hamid

I trembled very gently inside,
When the old man with a stroke,
Told me “thank you” in his own language.

He didn’t know if I understood,
But he said it anyway.
Saying it so quietly,
Like a sleeper’s 4 am sigh.

I knew what he said.

I did nothing but help him put his shirt on,
Dragging his dead arm through a coarse, sun-yellow shirt,
Tugging on a ragged, pilled sleeve,
I persuaded his crooked and stiff arm through.

I wonder when I will stop feeling…

How will I know I don’t care anymore?
Perhaps when I won’t have to wipe my eyes,
Blinking in the glaring whiteness of the hospital bathroom,
Pretending allergies or yawning is making me sniffle.

Maybe I won’t have to try to be harsh and cold then,
Because I really am.

Could it be, that I will always care, and be sad,
Grieving these patients’ loss for them?

But now…on this day…the man in yellow looks like a grandfather,
And I wish I didn’t feel.


3 thoughts on “What Will Not Caring Feel Like?

  1. drcharles Post author

    some great imagery here, and an expression of weary kindness that I think we all feel as doctors, and as military doctors in particular.
    thank you.

  2. Greg P

    1. I have to say, I don’t like the dissonance between ‘dead arm’ and a stiff one.
    2. typo with ‘Llike’
    3. in contrast, or maybe just with another point-of-view from Dr. Charles, I cherish the times when I can look at the face of a patient and see my mother, my aunt, my sister, my child. I think it helps us not become the diagnosing-treating algorithm that would be replaced with the snap of a programmer’s finger.

  3. Tomas

    Strong stuff here…When a limb is “dead” from a stroke, it becomes rigid, a burden…yet it still lives and has circulation… It becomes dysfunctional and a burden, yet still part of the body…
    Being made to feel dissonance from someones writing conveys its ability to influence a person. Strong stuff here…

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