She insisted on walking to the ambulance. Once inside we began treatment.
â€œBesides the allergic reaction do you have any other medical problems?â€
The question is part of our patient assessment, one we ask every patient under our care. Beatrice, a forty-four year old woman suffering from a possible allergic reaction to hair detangler lay on my stretcher, oxygen mask covering her swollen but pretty face and answered quietly.
â€œI have an under active thyroid, Acid reflux, andâ€¦Multiple Myeloma.â€
I stopped writing and took a closer look. Of course, I thought. Her close cropped hair was in stark contrast to the images displayed in the family portraits that decorated her living room. The swelling in her face wasnâ€™t a result of the allergic reaction, rather a prolonged battle with cancer. Iâ€™ve seen the look before, close to home.
â€œYou mentioned the Multiple Myeloma last,â€ I said to her.
Ninety-nine out of a hundred people would have told me about the cancer before I had two feet in their door. It is all consuming, a diagnosis as frightening as that, tough to get out of your mind.
â€œYou are going to survive,â€ I said, not really sure why I said it.
I never fail to be inspired and amazed by the strength shown to me on a daily basis. The treatment was effective, I felt much better the second I met her.