I added some berebere chili powder from Ethiopia, and also some turmeric, which contains curcumin, the stuff that makes your food yellow and your cancer shrink. After the spices were heated in oil, I added some hot water and a lid, to cook the potatoes. I also threw in some raisins, a can of tomato sauce and the juice of a lemon. It started to smell good. I chopped some red pepper to throw in later. I chopped up some more lamb to add to the stew, and had chopped about half of the remainder when I missed the meat with my knife.
I chopped off about 1/4 of my fingernail and a slice of flesh behind it. It was time to stop chopping lamb. My finger bled hot and fast. I ran it under the sink a few times and mashed the flap down with a paper towel. I had just been thinking about how Nelbert yells at me every time he sees me chopping things, saying I'm going to hurt myself. Did it again. I used my toenail clippers to remove the flap of flesh and nail, added a large lump of triple antibiotic goo, and bandaged it in flexible fabric bandaids. I grew light headed in the heat of the kitchen, and would have passed out but I laid down.
I thought to myself, how can I be a doctor? If this little bit of blood causes me to almost faint, how will I deal with larger wounds? Burns? Mass carnage? I don't know. I do know that other people's blood doesn't bother me like my blood does.
The stew turned out quite good, and my neighbors C & P seemed to really enjoy it. It was the first time I had made a curry with a tomato base. I liked it too. I forgot to throw in the red peppers--they'll go in the leftovers. We shared a bottle of wine that Jeff had picked---the Shiraz-Grenache from Australia, and it was perfect with the meal. We talked about Leslie, our miserable Barnmate.
I had invited Leslie to the 4th of July party, but she didn't come. Our neighbors joked about worrying when they didn't see Leslie for a few days that they would find her by the smell. C and I thought she was probably sequestered in her room just because she is hostile/insecure/antisocial. But on the morning of July 5th C went to check on her, and "she looked bad" and couldn't breathe deeply. C took her to the emergency room that morning, and it turns out she has pancreatitis. According to C this was almost expected after the surgery to remove her stony gallbladder. Some time ago Leslie had infected kidneys. I suspect that she is systemically very weak and her immune system is shot. I would not be at all surprised if she were to have some fungal infection as well, from living so long in the Barn. Edwin died of a fungus. People don't think fungus is in the desert, but the spores are just especially airborne here. The jokes about not finding Leslie until she begins to stink are not as funny as they used to be.
You may remember that I was suffering some pain in my own abdomen, and had some tests done to find out if my gall bladder and liver were OK. So far, so good. I learned to apply a mantra of love in self defense against Leslie. Then Leslie had her gallbladder out, and suddenly my gut felt better. Now that she is gone in the hospital my gut is perfectly happy. I can't help to wonder about whose pain I was feeling in my gut. Could I have taken on the pain of my neighbor? Or does her presence cause my gut to hurt? Either way, this is a lesson to be mulled over for some time to come.
I am currently reading How Doctors Think by Groopman, and it is a collection of stories about missed diagnoses. Here are all the reasons that a doctor might not get past the obvious... great stories, very useful. I was considering, what would a doctor think when confronted with Leslie? Covered in dog hair, overweight and whining... I had dismissed her complaints about her kidneys because she is always complaining, because I have heard enough already. If it had been up to me, she might have been dead by now. I am pained by my own lack of compassion for this woman. She deserves compassion, same as anyone.
Thankfully, I am not her doctor. But I will not forget her. She teaches lesson after lesson.
My neighbors are already plotting their strategy for when I leave, and Leslie turns her hatred on them.