If you want an old man’s eyes to light up, ask him what he did for work when he was young.
You will get touching stories of work, love, kids, success and failure. Being a doctor brings with you the ability to read a situation. In the first few minutes, you generally know whether you can cure the problem, or whether it is a long road of supportive therapy.
It was Friday and close to the witching hour, when I got a consult in one of the outlying hospitals. This was a small makeshift hospital that was an extension of the main campus that we were made to cover. I cursed my luck as I made the drive down. Mr Richards had passed out. He was a small man, curled up and the diagnosis was straightforward. His blood pressure had dropped secondary to Parkinson’s disease and dehydration. His wife looked lost. I sat down, reassured her and struck up a conversation. I asked the familiar question. Turned out, he was a police officer and one of the best boxers in the NY police force. The old man's eyes lit up at the conversation. Through the fog of his memories, he told me stories of him walking the beat in New York City, with his baton and sparkling uniform. His boxing matches, his children, and then suddenly he stopped, looked around the dingy room, at the urinary catheter, and he said, “and now this”.
There is nothing crueller than age and time. It takes strong people, intelligent people, people whom you and I idolise, and breaks them d