Billy Rubin

The adventures of a pre-clerkship medical student.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


My uncle was sitting in a chair holding a garbage bucket. The bit of hair he had was dishevelled. A large bruise stood out on his pale skin. His right leg was badly swollen; with no narrowing at the ankle or knee, it looked like a cylinder. He was nodding in and out of consciousness.

His family sat around his bed. His wife and daughters looked as if they had been crying.

As I walked into the room everyone greeted me. I sat and they began to explain the severity of the situation. My uncle was in renal failure. He had been flown into this tertiary hospital to have an emergency operation, but his platelet level was too low to risk the surgery. Doctors didn't expect him to make it through the night.

The minister, who had been sitting quietly with the family, began to pray. I bowed my head. " 'In my Father's house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you so. I go to prepare a place for you.' "

Sitting in his chair, Uncle began to sing. "I've got a mansion over the hilltop, In that bright land where we'll never grow old, And some day yonder we will never more wander, But walk on streets of purest gold."

I sat with the family, not knowing what to say. When it was finally time to leave, I told Uncle it was good seeing him and that I would see him again soon. He drifted off into unconsciousness. I said my goodbyes to the family and left, wondering if that would be the last time I saw him.



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