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                             The Patient

                                       by Don Urbanus

     Dr. Don slowly and carefully pulled the green rubber gloves over his hands and held them up like a maestro. His patient would be there shortly. He was cleaned and ready.
     The ambulance screamed up to the emergency room and screeched to a halt. The driver, a burly man in his late twenties, ran around and opened up the back of the ambulance. Inside, his partner, a petite blond with a short no-nonsense haircut, held an I.V. up. A tube coiled down to the stretcher and disappeared under a blanket. They hurried the victim into the hospital where Dr. Don waited impatiently, frowning at them. He had lost two patients this weekend already and he didn’t want to lose any more.
     “What are the vital signs?” he asked as he flipped the blanket off the patient.
     The two paramedics locked eyes briefly. The petite blond shook her head in silent knowing. In the real severe cases, she always did the talking, maybe because she was a little older than her partner, maybe because she had given natural birth to three kids. If a woman can do that and stay cool, she can do anything.
     “Severe dehydration and no pulse, of course, Doctor.”
     “I can see that, Jenna, but why?” he asked, exasperated. “Who is responsible for this patient?” he snapped. He didn’t have time for lab tests and slow analysis from the Pathology department. At their pace, the patient would be dead before he got any answers. He would have to use his gut feelings again. As if on cue, a harried woman rushed into the room. Her hair was everywhere and she had a wild-eyed look. She choked on a sob.
     “Is Binky O.K.?” she whimpered.
     “O.K.? O.K.?” the doctor sneered, “Binky might not be long for this world Mrs……….. Thornstrom?” The doctor looked at the patient’s chart and then tossed it aside. “As you can see, the patient is severely dehydrated, but the question is why Mrs. Thornstrom?”
     “Well, I gave Binky water twice a week but he started looking poorly so I started giving him water every day and then I fertilized him to make sure he was getting enough nutrients. He started wilting so I gave him some more water. Oh, Doctor, what did I do wrong? He was given to me by my last boyfriend. He just can’t die!” She burst into tears.
     “Mrs. Thornstrom,” Dr. Don said, toning it down a bit, “You are killing your houseplant with kindness. The reason he is wilting is because his roots are rotting. No roots mean no water can get up to his leaves. Fertilizing him at this point is like trying to stuff a turkey dinner down a dying man.” Bending his head, he rubbed his brow with two fingers and a thumb. “Why can’t they listen to their local nursery professional,” he said, mostly to himself.
     At that point, the two paramedics left the room. It was out of their hands and they were needed elsewhere. Binky’s life was now in the hands of one of the most skilled plant surgeons on the west coast. A heavy set nurse entered as they were leaving. She quickly came up to speed with the doctor.  The doctor tapped the pot off the roots of poor Binky. A foul odor wafted into the air.  He sighed and carefully knocked some soil off the roots. They were brown and discolored.  

     "Nurse, prepare a solution of 10% Benlate. After surgery, we’ll soak Binky in a 3% solution of Hydrogen Peroxide.”
     “Benlate, Doctor?” the nurse asked, handing him a towel to wipe his hands, “That fungicide is restricted. We can only use what’s on the shelf and then there won’t be any more. Is it that serious?”
Dr. Don just turned and glared at her.
     “Yes, Doctor,” said the nurse as she rushed out of the examining room.
     Dr. Don turned and smiled at Mrs. Thornstrom, “Now if you will just fill out these insurance forms………...”

                        * * * * * * *
      “Don. Don!” Judy said, waving her hand in front of his face, “Are you daydreaming again? A lady brought a plastic bag with a dried up leaf in it. She wants to know what’s wrong with her plant. Oh, and here’s another one with a leaf with a hole in it. They want to know what bug made the hole.”
     Don sighed, removed the green rubber gloves and took the bags. He could spray the weeds later he supposed. He opened the bag and frowned down at the leaf, wondering what it was.


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