In search of story


Digital saga

I broke my finger;
it got even:
I couldn’t grip
or slip a sleeve on.

It hurt when it happened,
then mercifully dulled
’til the doctor did the splinting,
which strangled and pulled.

That night it yelled
Wake up and feel —
dreams are illusion
but I am real!
I am Pain!
Hear me roar!
I can take a little finger
and make it so much more.

Next day I called the doctor
and the robot said
Leave a message.
HELP! I pled.

The day crept along
with my phone in my pocket,
but I did not want to talk
in the middle of Target

so I waited at home.
Nothing from the phone.

Another stabbing night —
Enough already! —
I called again
my voice unsteady.

Mirabile dictu,
the nurse called back,
said fractures hurt,
give the wrap some slack.

And she assured me —
she knew for certain —
the wrap would not
cause my skin to be hurtin’.

That did it.

“Fractures hurt.”
No duh, I fumed;
the splinting’s the problem —
I had to exhume:

I unwrapped the swaddling —
that took real pluck —
lo! the skin underneath
looked a lot like ground chuck.

Eureka! I cried,
surveying my digit;
I see why my night’s spent
in whimper and fidget.

The bone on the inside,
the skin on the out
together in chorus
plaintively shout


In consult with pharmacist
and my poor frazzled finger
I have a new wrap,
a real humdinger.

I did it myself —
you may express your amazement —
peek-a-boo gauze
is my new fashion statement.

The moral is clear
from here to Helsinki:
never trust a car door
to look out for your pinkie.

And don’t be too quick
to trust the stick
they call the splint.
Heed your skin —
it’s what you’re in —
that’s my helpful hint.


There comes a time

It had been a very long day, but then most days were. In addition to the usual bounding between Dad and catastrophe, there was a visit to his primary care physician. Dad was unsteady and taking him anywhere was a challenge. The doctor had told us that he was withdrawing some of Dad’s medications and that Dad should eat whatever he wanted, cholesterol be damned. Well, maybe those weren’t his exact words.

Dad and I had finished our usual early dinner and the day was closing into a winter evening as Dad was closing into himself, beginning his night’s restlessness. The phone rang; I took the call in a room away from Dad and was surprised to hear the voice of Dad’s wonderful doctor.

“I wanted to be sure you understood me today,” he said gently.

I assured the doctor I had understood: aggressive treatment was no longer the greater good. Dad’s body had had enough of swimming upstream. He was 84, worn out by dementia he didn’t even realize he had; his cardiovascular system and heart were exhausted, his mind not his own any more. Death wasn’t imminent, but life was, like the winter day, closing.

The doctor gave me permission to stop fighting the disease. It was OK to let go and know that Dad and God would take it from there. It was time.

It didn’t mean the end of medical care for Dad; it meant that medical care had a different purpose. The doctor was not abandoning his friend, as he referred to Dad, but standing with him, acknowledging reality when Dad couldn’t.

There comes a time when time runs out, and it’s all right to put away the clock.