The Unexpected Present

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The Sweetest Kiss

two white sailboats on body of water

This is the time of year when a new crop of Residents come in for their rotation at this teaching hospital. So, yesterday I get a call from the new doctor assigned to Yuri asking me about his state of mind before landing (literally via helicopter) in this hospital. Because he seems despondent this morning and unable to communicate. Was he depressed? “WHAT???” I wanted to say “WTF???” but restrained myself from exasperation with these worthless assumptions.


I tell this doctor that Yuri was enthusiastic about his Undiscovered Country album release just a week before his first hospital stay where he was misdiagnosed and treated for health issues he never had before. Over the weekend, he was alert and communicated quite well with me as well as with some of the nurses who are able to lip-read his requests. He was disappointed there was no physical therapy over the holiday weekend, but he worked on his hands himself, gripping the phone and making attempts at using his fingertips.


It frightened me what this new doctor told me over the phone since he was assessing Yuri for the first time. Same with the Memorial Day nurse covering for one day. She didn’t know anything about Yuri either. I had a dentist appointment for the afternoon but raced over as soon as I got out. By 4 p.m. the traffic was heavy as usual on the Garden State Parking Lot. New Jersey traffic hasn’t changed since we left.


When I arrived the doctors were not there nor did they get in touch with me as promised. My call to the senior medical social worker put the wheels in motion to get him out of this unit that seems to be next to a behavioral unit where a poor woman keeps calling out for help. Did this new doctor mistake Yuri for someone else who has fallen into a deep depression?

Instead, I find Yuri wide awake and happy to see me. He finally got a physical therapy consult and that pleased him to the point where he conveyed his feelings between lip reading and using an alphabet tablet. He knows it’s already the month of June, a time when we made several trips to Block Island, Rhode Island before the vacationers would come between the Fourth of July and Labor Day Weekend.


Very carefully he spelled out Point Judith where we catch the ferry and take in some great clam chowder; Salt Pond, where we would go clamming and watch the sunsets; and the wide-open beaches, where we would plunge into the chilly waters loving the fact there are more birds than the so few people on the sand. He wants to go back to the Harbourview on Corn Neck Road, the last place we stayed. We get Christmas cards from the lovely proprietors, Kristina and Stuart every year. Time to make a reservation.


Finally, after squeezing my hand, Yuri pulled me closer to him, as close as I could get to his face without disconnecting any of the few remaining tubes. Very gently, he gave me the sweetest little kiss. No words could describe the feeling inside me. It was the sweetest kiss.

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