Be Happy that I Didn't Pursue a Career in Medicine

Now that I've popped a few Airborne today to ward off a mid-semester head cold, I should tell you why I would make a terrible nurse or doctor.

It's not just because of the blood, although I do prefer when people keep blood inside their bodies, rather than outside.  It's more about the necessary compassion.  Apparently I'm not good at offering compassionate responses when people physically suffer, like when two of my three children insisted that their throats hurt earlier this fall while getting ready for school.

Children (hoarsely whispering) "My throat hurts."

Me (looking at them):

Nothing.  I had nothing immediately compassionate to say.  No helpful, "Oh, you poor sweeties, let me make you cups of hot tea with honey," and no empathetic, "Sore throats are the worst!"  This doesn't mean that my mind was sluggish, though.  I already had entered overdrive with sundry thoughts about sore throats:

It is TOO EARLY in the school year for this to be happening.  What has it been?  Two weeks?  Immune systems can be compromised in just two weeks?  Wasn't it 90+ degrees outside just days ago?  What tomfoolery is this to come down with a cold now?

Have I recently shared any food with either of these children that will make their sore throats of today my sore throat of tomorrow?
What do you even do to treat a sore throat anyway, besides for riding it out?  Cough drops?  Do we have any cough drops?

They're not going to want go to school today, are they?

And since these thoughts take two or three seconds to fully process, my children must have assumed that I didn't hear their complaints the first time.

Them (hoarse whispers now coupled with pained expressions):  "It hurts. Real bad."

Then they pointed to their necks in case I didn't recall where their throats were located, or perhaps for emphasis.

Me (still looking at them, still calculating who I've most likely shared germs with, still deeply wanting them all to go to school for the day, still trying to muster up the most fitting parental response):  "Um, do you think you have a temperature?"

("Do you think you have a temperature?" is my automatic answer to every health complaint, except for open wounds, which prompt my second default reply: "Do you think you need a band-aid?")

It reminds me of a moment, many years ago, when my friend who studied pre-med at a southern university visited me at my northern university.  She browsed my bookshelves of literature textbooks and rhetoric tomes, then pulled a thick volume of Shakespeare off the shelf.  "I can't believe that you study this."  There wasn't a hint of irony in her tone, just observation, daresay even appreciation for a good liberal arts education.

I sat cross-legged on my dorm floor's five by seven area rug, flabbergasted and like, "But you study anatomy and physiology and organic chemistry!  You're figuring out all that foot-bone's-connected-to-leg-bone stuff, which is a tad more concrete than a metaphysical question about being or not being."

Alas, she probably has better responses for her children when they have sore throats, but maybe, just maybe, she also looks at her own kids when they approach her with an ailment and sometimes says, "Do you have a temperature?  No, well, just go grab a band-aid, okay?"

Image compliments of Pixabay.

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