The Walking Man
There is a man I often see around town who seems to walk just about everywhere. Come rain, sunshine, cold or hot, he walks. I have never seen him in a car nor have I noticed him sporting anything other than the usual outfit. Khaki pants and a plaid button up shirt. He holds his left arm with his right and has a slumped posture that looks uncomfortable. This, along with uneven facial expressions, tells me that he has experienced a stroke at some point in his life. I know I’ve seen him once or twice in the emergency department throughout my stint as a nurse but cannot remember what for or much else about him. I just know he walks. A lot.
Lex and I saw him the other day and I commented on how I’d bet he have the healthiest cardiovascular system in the country. We talked about his small town fame and pondered on what life has thrown his way. Lex asked if he had ever been my patient and I confirmed that he had. The conversation stopped there but his presence didn’t leave my thoughts.
As we drove, I looked out my window and continued thinking about the walking man. It had been many years since I had first laid eyes on him. I realized that age would one day arrive at his stoop and he would begin visiting the ER more frequently. I will never step into an ER as a nurse again. For him nor any other patient.
Lex is soon to be licensed and will accept the torch I’ll proudly pass to him. Even though I’ve discouraged it, he is leaning toward trauma - I guess it must run through his veins. As for the man who walks? Well, he will never be my patient again, but it is probable that Lex may one day become his caregiver.
This is an impactful thought. How many patients whose paths I’ve crossed may one day be under his care? Most will have no clue that the hands tending to their needs are those of a second generation McLeod nurse. I pray that of all the lessons I have tried to impart, above skill, kindness will be his guiding light. That people will see and feel the passion he exhibits and feel grateful.
In my imagination, I can picture a scene where the walking man is Lex’s patient. “I knew a nurse a long time ago that used to treat me really well. You remind me of her in a slight way.” Lex will smile and wonder if it is I he speaks of. “You know, my mom used to work here” my son will say wistfully, “she used to be a nurse.”
I hope everyone has a great weekend. Let’s talk again soon. As always, I’ll bring the coffee. -R.