Friday, December 18, 2009

Don't Let it Bring You Down

She remained such a pleasant young woman, a software engineer from yet another midwestern city, with a slight smile and gentle optimism on her face at all times. That is what amazed me. She had been having a run of bad luck, so one might expect her to be a little bitter about life and such, but she wasn't.

A year ago her mother went to the operating room to have colon cancer treated, and she coded on the table and died a few days later. A few months after that her father passed away, as much from grief as from his own fight against cancer. So she moved from the midwest, along with her quietly devoted husband, here to Phoenix, hoping for a change of luck.

Phoenix has not been good to her.

They bought a house but before they could entirely settle in, it "burned down with them in it," as she said, though they were unhurt. They moved to an apartment in an affordable neighborhood, where she was shot in the lung in a random senseless drive-by assault.

"I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," she explained.

That was a couple-few months ago. After several weeks of hospitalization she was discharged, only to subsequently develop some complications that landed her right back in. More surgery, chest tubes, and thankfully a pain medicine pump.

Aside from handing her a few pills and helping her get around some, that was my job: to help keep the pain under control, which merrily it was. Without that, it would have been a completely different story, and a startlingly different patient too. With uncontrolled pain, even the nicest person can become a total bitch on wheels.