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Farewell, Ms. G | 老人家您走好——缅怀一位故去的老人

December 17, 2016

by Dr.Yu

Recently whenever I have a brief leisure in the clinic, I get this lonely, melancholy feeling. Sitting in the chair, starring in the air, and I hope to see a familiar face---may be Allison can tell me “Ms. G is here”. I hope for it, but I know it will never happen. Ms. G, my old patient, old friend, my Granny, will never come back.

 

It has been a month. The memories of Ms. G kept coming back. I have known her for many years. After she became my patients, she let me handle all her health problems. Then she started bringing lunch for me---the dim sum and sticky rice cake or fried sticky rice that she thought was the best in the whole Chinatown. In fact I found these food too oily and I only occasionally ate them. Every time she brought lunch I would tell her to not buy me lunch anymore and I did not tell her my true feeling about these food. I knew she was lonely and did not want to hurt her feeling. Therefore she kept buying lunch to me for many years until recently, and finally she stopped buying, maybe she went to Chinatown not as often, or maybe she finally found out I did not like the food.

Ms G. Speaks the taishan dialect---a branch of cantonese that is very different from ordinary cantonese. The language barrier was therefore very strong that our communication at the beginning was extremely hard. However, after several years, we eventually could understand each other very well with simple words, gestures and body language. In the most recent 3 years, after she became deaf, we could even communicate through hand gestures only.

 

Several years ago she started to have hemafecia and stomach ache. I urged her to do a full check out in the hospital but she refused. Therefore she started coming to my clinic more often. Sometime she came two times a week when her condition was not well. She did not speak any English, so occasionally she would come to ask me hear the voice messages on her phone. Then I would go to her place to listen the messages for her after the clinic was closed at 6 pm.

 

Then came the bank accounts problems. Ms G. had some savings and investments. She asked me to read her bank letters, probably because she thought I as an “outsider” was easier to talk to then her children. For some time I might be the one who know more about her accounts than her children.

 

She gave her will to me to keep several years ago, along with the related documents. In the same year she gave me a small sach, in which there were a pair of vintage vases, and a pair of small stone lions. She told me it was a “small gift of memory”. I saw it was not anything expensive, so I accepted it. Later I found out how precious these were---these were actually a part of her dowry accompanied her to Canada when she got married. Half a year ago she offered me to take home a wine cabinet made of fine oak, probably because I said this cabinet looked good one time when I visited her. Of course, I could not accept her offer this time.

 

I suppose her insecure feeling was probably because her language barrier---she could not communicate with her neighbors, and she got nervous once she saw ambulance and police cars. She lived in a big house alone, and the loneliness was beyond what she could take.

 

Months ago her condition finally went out of control. The ache and swelling in her stomach got worse and worse, and I ran out of solutions. She told me she was too old to go to hospital and she asked me not telling her children because she feared being sent to hospital. Regarding her situation, I contacted Dr. Jianwen Fu and Shipei Huang of the Traditional Chinese Medicine University of Guangzhou, they both said the unsuccessful prognosis was the cause. She started with stomach ache, then weight loss, then not being able to walk to clinic, not being able to climb on the bed---I could only lessen her pain, but could not help to cure. I felt really sad and helpless.

 

On the second day (which was a Friday) when she was sent to emergency by her family, her daughter called me, telling me she finally agreed to stay in the hospital due to my suggestion. I was busy that day and the weekend yet I thought about visiting her. I decided to visit her the coming Tuesday. However, all happened so fast. On the coming Monday when I finished with the first client that day, Alison got a call from her daughter, saying she passed away the last night.

 

Upon hearing this, my heart went down. There were tears in my eyes. Now it has been almost a month. How is she doing in the heaven? Is she free of pain and insecurity? I cannot see but I know all is good for her. I will pay a visit to her grave and she will be happy---she will remember our friendship.

A doctor grateful for your trust

 

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最近在诊所里工作的时候,当略有空闲之际,心里就会涌现出一种说不出来的滋味.寂寞、惆怅,甚至有苦闷要哭的感觉。坐在休息室的椅上的时候,我多么希望有一个熟悉的背影出现,多么希望听见门响以后,Allison来告诉我”Ms.G is here”,但我知道再也等不来了——我的老病人、老朋友、我的“老人家”(一直以来的尊称)。

 

一个月了,我没有一天不在想象老人家可爱的身影,画面经常出现在脑海里,无法控制。认识老人家是多年前的事情了,自从认识以后,老人家所有的健康问题似乎都是交给我了。之后就有了经常中午出现的送午饭的身影,这是她又一次从唐人街带来了她认为最好吃的早茶和糯米糍、糯米炒饭。我觉得这些很油腻,所以有时会吃一些,有时就不吃了。每次都同她讲不用再买了,但一直没有同她讲我并不爱吃,因为她是那么的孤单,我知道我是她的一个重要依靠,我怕伤害到她。直到多年以后,她也许去唐人街少了,也许认识到了我并不爱吃油腻食物,我的定时午饭也就没了。

她讲着标准的台山话,我们之间的交流有时基本是鸡同鸭讲,但通过多年的接触后,我们竟然完全明白对方的意思,一个手势就会明白她要讲什么。甚至后三年来,她两耳暴聋后,手势成了我们最主要的交流方式。

 

几年前她开始便血和腹痛,我认为需要做一个检查,当然这种想法被拒绝了,因为她不愿去医院,因此她看我就更频繁了些。有时病重,每周来诊所一两次,有时隔段时间来次诊所。她听不懂英文,后来又是耳聋,所以有时会来趟诊所让我帮她听一下家里的语音留言,我就会告诉她六七点下班后去听留言。每当有语音留言时,她都会来诊所找我帮忙。

 

再后来到诊所请我帮忙的,就是关于银行的问题。老人家有一些存款,也有一些投资,因为不懂英文,也或许“外人”比孩子更容易交流的缘故,她的银行账户可能我比她孩子要接触的多得多。一旦有银行的信件,通常我是第一个读过的人。

 

老人家的遗嘱在几年前就交到了我的手上,让我保管,还要来龙去脉的资料。也是几年前,她给了我一个小包,包里有一对过时的用塑料线编织花纹和鸟图案的花瓶,还有一对石头的小狮子,她说作为纪念,当时我认为并不贵重就收下了。后来我知道这有可能是她嫁到加拿大时的随品,才知道这些东西在她心里的分量。半年前,她说你把这个酒柜搬回家吧,这是一个橡木做的很结实的酒柜,可能多年前我第一次去她家的时候,随口夸过这个酒柜,她还记得。当然我没有搬回家。

 

有时,我感觉到她对周围的不安全感,因为语言无法与邻居沟通,看到救护车和警车会有些紧张,自己一个人住在大房子里,这样的寂寞,并不是容易承担的。

 

今年近几个月,病情最终恶化至控制不住了,腹痛、肿块越长越大,我的能力早就不行了,老人家说她老了,不去医院了,也不让我同她的孩子们讲,担心孩子们逼她去医院。于是,我联络了著名的付建文教授,当时广州中医药大学的黄仕沛教授也微信回复,预后不佳是他们共同的答案。从开始腹痛,消瘦加速,最后不能走路来诊所、不能上到病床上来,我也只能减轻她的一点痛苦,但每次的无能为力让我深深自责,我的医术让我感觉渺小。

 

在深夜入急诊的第二天(周五),她让她的女儿特意打电话告诉我她进医院了,似乎告诉我她这次听了我的劝说了。忙碌了整个周五和周末,其实一直想去医院看望老人家,但想到她痛苦的样子,后有打定主意周二休息时去医院看她。可是一切又太快了,当我在周一上午看诊第一个病人时,Alison就接到了她女儿的电话,说老人家已于昨晚故去。

 

心一下就沉了,几乎眼泪就掉下来了。现在已经快一个月了,老人家在天国是不是过得很好,是不是再也没有痛苦,是不是再也不用担心。我知道一定是美好的,近日一定会去墓地看望她,她也一定记得我们的友谊。

 

 

                                                                                                   感谢您如此信任的一位医生

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