Almighty God has touched the center of our forehead with two fingers of honor. ~ The Kanun of Lekë Dukagjini
“Hit by a bus,” said the paramedic who wheeled the gurney into St. Margaret’s emergency room in Manhattan, where I was on my first day of rotation in my fourth year of medical school.
“Trauma to skull, shoulder, knee, ribs.” Not necessarily life-threatening, but requiring immediate evaluation. “Walked right out in front of it,” tsked the attendant, shaking his head.
He hadn’t mentioned eyes, but when the patient rolled his head, I could see the pool of blood where the far eye should have been. The good eye passed over the paramedic and the intake nurses who were already checking his IV and his pulse, then fastened on me. His fingers fastened, too, with unexpected strength, on the sleeve of my exam coat, enough to bend me down to him. “Miss,” he rasped, “my brother, his wife, you must find them, in the Bronx, they will tell you.”
No one else seemed to be paying attention to his words. “Did anyone call them?” I looked up to ask.
“Call who?” The paramedic made a notation on his clipboard, scanned my name tag and added, “Miss—Dr.—Pelham”.
“His family, the ones he’s asking for.”
The pen raised from the clipboard. “You understand what he’s saying?”
“That’s not English he’s speaking. I don’t know what it is.”