My first patient of the day, a 78-year-old named Elizabeth, moved down my office hallway like a sinking ship. She came to rest in my exam room, complaining of leg pain and itchy lower legs. With her consent, I examined her legs.
If I closed my eyes, I could see Elizabeth walking down the Pennsylvania country road of her youth to her farmhouse. I could smell the earth of the fall, the cool winds sweeping the trees. I could feel the tenor that once sang through her sinewy body.
I looked at her ancient face. I listened. Across the few feet between us, I sent her a life raft, words to float trust on.
I relied on Elizabeth’s wisdom about her body, and made my offering. We came to an agreement about her treatment. She smiled and thanked me, and then got up and carefully moved on.