Today was a very difficult day at work. Maybe it's the type of day that's put in my path so I can realize just how lucky I am. I work for a doctor, a specialist for pain. I would have to say that most of his patients are elderly with collapsing spines, arthritis, degenerative disc disease, fibomyalgia. We're taking major pain.
Since I've worked for him for quite a long time, and have felt fairly secure in my employment, I've been lucky to escape the "second depression" sucking up the United States like Ice Cream through a straw. Hm. I'm not sure what that means, exactly, but I'll go with it.
A patient came in today, rather teary. It's not uncommon to see, they're in pain, sometimes the pain is real, sometimes they cry because they're afraid their pee test will show that they're not taking the Percocet, vicodin, OxyContin etc that the doctors might be prescribing and they're afraid they're going to get the boot. Sometimes the DEA has already found out they're dealing the medication and the patient is waiting for the swoop down at any moment.
Anyway, this patient was quiet, eyes red and I asked her if she was okay. She nodded. After a moment I began going over her new medication list and asked her if anything else has changed. She stared at me and her eyes welled. Being dense, I pressed on. "Change of Insurance, phone number, address, anything different?" She swallowed hard and then said in a quiet tone, "you can erase them all. They're all gone." Still being incredibly dense, I continued to press. I deleted the address and then I asked for her new one. She said "I don't have one. I'm homeless."
"My husband left me, I lost the house, my medical bills are so high, they take the little money I have left. I have to now live in my car." I wondered about her children I always see her with. Did their dad take them? Do they know their mother sleeps in a car? I didn't know what to say. The truth is my husband and I miss a month paycheck and we're not far behind. I thought of my nice little house, my loving husband and my employment that puts food on our table and allows us to go out every once in a while. We too have a high mortgage and live paycheck to paycheck. And then I thought about odd stuff, like my greed, the half used bar of soap that I threw away because I wanted a new one. The half sandwich I tossed because it had too much mayo on it. I remembered grumbling because I didn't get the high Christmas bonus I usually get, but only half as much. That check would have helped her quite a lot.
I thought about her off and on through out the day, always saying a little prayer of thankfulness that my situation is not as grim as it could be. I wished her luck as she left and felt stupid for saying it.
At the end of the day my doctor told me he wanted to have a quick meeting on Wednesday. I asked him about what. He looked tired, didn't want to meet my eye. He said his surgeries weren't coming in like they used to. Medicare wasn't paying enough and the lack of flow had begun to effect the practice. He took a deep breath before saying he would have to cut the office staff's hours. I guess he saw the look on my face before he added, he thought it would only be temporary.
As I left the parking lot, it was dark. I noticed a red mustang parked not far from mine, a woman stretched out on the front seat and I wondered if that was her. I didn't want to stare, but I thought about giving her money, of the bottled waters I had in my trunk. I couldn't tell who the person was. Maybe it was just someone waiting for a person to get off work, or out of their doctor's appt. And so I drove away.
On the way home I remembered all the times I complained about my job, wished I had another or that I didn't have to work at all. Now I'm praying I won't loose the security my husband and I count on. I'm trying to be like my mom, trying to be positive about the situation.
I'll guess I'll just have to wait and see. Until then, I'm saying my prayers, grateful for that little house and the loving husband waiting for me.