Wednesday, March 13th was a full day, with two scheduled appointments in Boston. I got there a little bit early and hurried to grab a bite at Whole Foods. While walking the few blocks from MGH, I had to skirt a homeless couple splayed out on the sidewalk. A cane lay on the ground next to them and they were both obviously intoxicated. As I passed, the man began shaking the woman by her shoulders while shouting ‘listen to me you c—‘: hardly an affectionate way to address one’s partner. The nature of their interaction was unclear but concerning, particularly as I glanced over my shoulder and it became obvious the woman was bleeding from several cuts on her face. I turned to a gentleman striding next to me and said ‘she’s bleeding….we really ought to do something.’ ‘Yes, it is terrible, he replied’, and kept on walking.
I’m ashamed that I even hesitated. One of my personal mottoes is that complacency equals complicity, so there was nothing to do but go back.
The first word that came out of my mouth surprised me, as I am not given to endearments. “Hon, do you want to go the hospital? You’re bleeding.’ The woman’s ‘friend’ turned to me and explained that they had just come from the doctor’s office and that she had refused treatment. I looked to the woman for confirmation and she smiled wanly and nodded. As I backed away, the man turned to me and said ‘Hey thanks, we really appreciate it.’—it, of course, being the simple fact that I interacted with these two hapless people that everyone else was stepping around. I again urged them to get medical help and to try to keep the lacerations clean.
After lunch I had an appointed with my beloved thoracic social worker Mary Susan Convery (who has kindly agreed to see me on occasion even though she has been promoted to an administrative position). Our relationship goes back almost five years now, and her friendship and counsel mean the world to me.
After a rejuvenating hour, I had another spell of time before a meeting of the MGH Cancer Center’s Patient & Family Advisory Counsel at 5 pm. My membership in this committee is something I am proud of, as it required nomination, application, and an interview before I was voted in. And what a interesting group it is—a combination of cancer patients, family members and hospital staff. We meet every three weeks and are given the chance to provide input into any number of issues relating to patient care. It is an incredible opportunity to put our own experiences to good use, and I am excited to be a part of this.
Anyway, on the way there I ran into a fellow member, Sarah, who was also early due to an earlier appointment. We had a grand old time chatting for an hour or so before the meeting. Having only spoken briefly before, soon it was as if we were old friends.
PFAC wrapped up around 8 pm and by that point I was exhausted. However, it was a peaceful ride home as I was accompanied by the sweetest little sliver of a crescent moon; magical.