The Bad Doctor

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Nothing much, how are you?”

“I’m doing fine, actually I’m feeling a lot better.  I just got my test results.”

“Yeah,” he knew it was safe to ask what the results were based on the relaxed nature of her voice.  “So, what were the results?”

“Well, I have Myelodysplasia,” the word came out of her mouth like she was a substitute teacher trying to pronounce the last name of the foreign exchange student from Thailand.  “The doctor started me on this new medicine that I can’t pronounce.  I have to take it for six months and then I’m cured.  He said 85% of the people who take it respond.”

“What is Myelodysplasia?”  She often mentioned medical terms to him assuming that he knew what they all meant, but he was still one week away from his official graduation from medical school, not that he would know what it meant after graduating.

“I don’t really know, but it’s not leukemia and that’s all I care about.”

“That’s true.”

“Well, I have to run.  I’ll call you later.”

“O.K.  I’ll talk to you then, I love you.”

“I love you too.”

He felt a wave of relief come over him.  Wow, not leukemia.  That was great.  Whatever the hell Myelodysplasia was.  He wished he could have asked her more questions, but he had to go to a movie with his roommate anyways.  He’ll just ask the rest of the questions later and reference his medical textbooks after the movie.

After the movie he returned home.  He opened the thickest medical text that he could find, “M….E…. no it’s M….Y…..then E….. oh there it is…page 634-636…must be a pretty rare disease, only two pages.  He read on.  Mainly in elderly….chemotherapy and radiation exposure….median survival 2 year….support therapy.  What was that…MEDIAN SURVIVAL IS 2 YEARS!  Holy shit!  This Myelodysplasia is a preleukemic disease!”  The person he loved the most in the world is going to die.  She doesn’t even know what she has.  Her F%$#@*$ doctor didn’t explain the gravity of her disease.  She thinks she takes a pill once a day for six months and she will be better.  That creep didn’t have the decency to explain the condition to her.  He dropped the bomb and didn’t stick around to see what the damage was.

He felt sick to his stomach. Why did he go to that movie?  Why did he look up Myelodysplasia?  Why did he own that medical text?  Why did he go into medicine?  Why didn’t that jackass explain the disease to her?  When is she going to die?

He often thought that it would be better to not be a doctor and to be ignorant to all of these terrible diseases that tear our bodies and families apart.

Ryan Flack, Chicago, Class of 2002