Friday, September 14, 2012

The People at Pine Grove

     "You wouldn't believe the things they're saying about you," she said.
     "What?" I asked, taken aback.   She made the statement while I was in the midst of an ophthalmoscopic exam,  just after I had inquired about her cataract surgery.
     "I hate to tell you, because it's so terrible."
     Mrs. Y. had risen above her doubts, she said, to make this initial visit to my clinic.  We had just spent an hour together, as I sorted out her medicines--all twenty-one of them--and reduced the number to six.  It took a lot of explaining and coaxing, as she was apparently quite attached to the booty.  How had she accumulated so many pills, and why?  I guessed that she was afraid of something, and the line-up of orange containers with snap-on tops offered the facade of authority, pain relief, and tranquility.
     "It's important not to listen to everything you hear," I answered, thinking the platitude would ring true for her, a woman of strong opinion.
     "You're right," she said.  "I like to make my own decisions."
     I let the little interchange drop like sediment into the reservoir of the day, and finished my complete examination of Mrs. Y.
      Then I disobeyed my own gosh-darned advice about not-listening.  I just couldn't resist.
     "What exactly are they saying?  And who is saying it?" I asked.
     "Oh, the people where I live!" Mrs. Y. exclaimed, eager to spill out the details.  "They just won't stop.  When I told them I was coming to this clinic to see you, they went crazy."
     "What do you mean?"
     "They said, 'No, you can't go there.  That place is terrible.  Didn't you see it on the news?'"
     "Are you talking about the people at Pine Grove?  Isn't that where you live?"
     "Yes, that's the place.  It's a gossip hall."
     Pine Grove is a housing facility for older folks in east Gainesville.  Many had been my patients, and most were on low, fixed incomes, and Medicare.  I had made house calls for some who were too ill to leave the building.  Then they must have boycotted me, their suspicions been seeded by the TV-20 news report last year.  Come to think of it, I did have fewer Pine Grove patients these days, despite opening the doors to Medicare again.
     I hadn't realized there was such vehement feeling among those Pine Grove patients, as they had all expressed gratitude toward me and my staff in the past.  The residence was pleasant, and the people had been friendly, when I visited home-bound patients or did afternoon lectures in the lobby.   One lecture was called, "Too-Many-Medicines," and the others had been lively, interactive sessions on insomnia, skin cancer, and heart disease.  That was before D-day at the clinic last year, before the FBI threw everything into
     "I like it here," Mrs. Y. went on.  "And I'm going to give those people a piece of my mind."  It occurred to me that she might have been sent as an unwitting emissary, to bring back more details for the residents to kick around.
     "What exactly are they saying?"  I asked.  "What is so awful about me?"
     "They say you got into a whole lot of trouble with the government, or insurance, or something.  They say you're really bad.  It has to do with the report on the TV.  You don't want to know the way they talk."
     "You mean the report about the raid?"
     "Yeah, that one.  I saw the story, too.   I didn't think anything of it.  I like to make up my own mind.  So I told them to leave me alone, but they go on and on."
     "I'm sorry to hear that.  Why don't you tell them that everything here is fine, and maybe they have their facts wrong?"  It didn't sound to me as though they had any facts.
     "I'm going to do just that," she snapped.  "I like this place.  I like you.  I'm coming here again."
     "Thank you, Mrs. Y.  I really appreciate that."
     Whatever her reasons for coming to the clinic, I relished her spunk.  Today was one of those days when I had run out of my own spunk, I guess.
     I knew I had been cast into ignominy by the government's raid on my clinic, but I didn't know it had expanded into such disorganized, baseless gossip.  There still aren't any allegations, or charges, or facts...or anything to support the FBI's actions.  But that doesn't seem to matter to the Pine Grove residents.  As far as they're concerned--at least, according to Mrs. Y.--I am swimming in sewage.
     And that's how it felt for the remainder of the day.  Thank goodness for this blog--at least it has allowed me to come up for a little air.

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