He came to me in a dream. I hadn’t seen him for well over a year, and was so sad to hear of his death last August. I wasn’t able to attend the funeral.
He was my Sherlock Holmes, the doctor who spent countless hours on my case, trying to figure out what continued to plague me and cause constant digestive problems. He was tireless, calling doctors at Mayo and Baylor, finding experts in the field and conversing with them, giving them my history and coming to my defense when one doctor said I must have laxatives stashed in my hospital room drawer because he had never encountered a case like mine. He was the doctor who finally diagnosed me with Celiac Disease.
And here he was in my dream, as real as in life. “I have to find a new doctor,” I said to him, “because you went and died on me!” I could feel my anger boiling up over the sadness that lay beneath the surface.
After a moment or two, he said, “You know, you wouldn’t even talk to me when I first met you.”
“That is because I was in a coma, on a ventilator and had a tube stuck down my throat!” He smiled.
Side by side we walked and talked, remembering the jokes we shared during that difficult year, a little laughter to break the seriousness of the situation. His smile and kind words were balm for my soul, if not for my broken body. After that year in the hospital, I saw him less and less but would still leave his office with a fondness in my heart, as if I has just left coffee with a dear friend. He too had three kids, and every time we talked about some kind of medicine or treatment, his barometer was whether or not he would put his own wife on a certain protocol. His thoughtful consideration of all possibilities was one of his best gifts. He trusted me to know my own body and what it needed, even when we were at a loss for what the best course of action may be.
In a peaceful pause from our banter, I said, “You know, I was so sorry that I didn’t get to say goodbye.”
He stopped walking, turned toward me and putting his hands on my shoulders, turned me so that I faced him. He looked me in the eye and said,” I love you Jan.”
What does one do with such a gift as this? And why would he appear now? Does he know that I am writing my book and am working on a chapter about my Sherlock Holmes? Was this his way of continuing his never ending encouragement? Was it a way of acknowledging that patients are important to doctors too, and not just the other way around?
Tears fill my eyes as I ponder the mysteries that are beyond human understanding. No matter how it happened, I am grateful for the gift and am happy I got to say goodbye to a man who helped my regain my health, even if it was in my dreams.
As a wise person named Dumbledore once said to a wizard named Harry Potter, “Of course it is happening in your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”