Friday, December 13th, 2013

Eyes

I walk – coffee and census in hand – to my patient’s room. I never met her, so I begin my skepticism and study of ‘what ifs’ on the way.

What if she doesn’t trust me?

What if she’s really sick?

What if I don’t know how to help?

I set aside my apprehension and doubt, and I begin to read her story, ”47 year old female with a past medical history of hypertension, presents with…”

I hear someone approaching from the other side of the hallway, and I stop reading to do that friendly smile that I like to do to acknowledge someone’s existence. And just as my eyes meet his, my heart sinks through soles of my feet, through the floor, and becomes trapped in a wooden box deep beneath the foundation of the hospital.

He smiles back, but his eyes tell a story. A story of worry and sorrow and anxiety and worry. And worry…

He smiles back, but I don’t see honesty. I see deceit and an attempt at cordiality. I see pain and an almost disdain for me, for people in white coats, for people that are supposed to help him and his situation.

He smiles back, but I see different emotions behind those dreary, hopeless eyes. I see his eyes rimmed with dark circles, and I wonder if he’s slept at all. I see a yearning for escape. I see a person too broken and too distraught to smile with conviction.

He smiles back, but I see that he’s disconnected. And in that moment, I see my father, my uncle, my brother-in-law. And I want nothing more than to hug this stranger, and try to wrestle some of his pain from him with my embrace.
He smiles back, but his eyes don’t smile.

I walk further down the hall, and I couldn’t help but look back at him and observe his posture, his gait, his existence.
I press the button for the elevator, and stare at the story on the paper, trying to read, but far too affected for the words to register.

“47 year old female with a past medical history of…”

I stumble on that line as the elevator climbs to the sixth floor.

“47 year old female with a past medical history of…”

I find myself at the door to her room.

I walk in, and I take one look at her. And somehow I know that I just met her husband downstairs.

Those eyes.

***

About Edwin Acevedo

Edwin Headshot

Edwin Acevedo, Jr. is a first-generation college graduate from Passaic, New Jersey. He is the son of hardworking Puerto Rican parents, who strongly emphasized the value of an education, and pushed Edwin to become the best student that he could possibly be.

Edwin graduated Cum Laude from Rutgers University in 2011, with concentrations in biological sciences, public health, and psychology. He is currently a third year medical student at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School where, among numerous other activities, he serves in leadership roles for the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) and SALUD, an organization associated with the Latino Student Medical Association (LMSA).

He is devoted to his family and his girlfriend of 6 years, and knows that none of his successes would have been possible without their continued support and encouragement.


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