She was lying on the bed when I met her. After introducing myself as the doctor on call I pulled back the gauze covering her left eye. It would take six or seven sutures to reattach the bleeding flap of skin. Her cell phone rang when I was numbing the area around her eye. My comment about the call being perfectly timed brought a pathetic smile to her face. I left the room to let the medication take effect. After the nurse informed me that my patient’s eye had been cleaned I drew the curtain back. Previously my patient hadn’t been crying. Now her pulse was rapid, her face was pale and she was shivering.
There wasn’t anything I could do about the bruising around her eye but I closed the L-shaped cut above it. Her glasses were on the counter near the sink. According to my patient she had tripped and fallen down some stairs at home. When I examined her glasses they were bloodless and intact. When I asked my patient about the fall it was unclear what object had sliced into the skin above her eye. I left my gloves and scissors in her room. I washed my hands, dried them on a paper towel and went to speak with a co-worker of mine. I wanted to know what he thought about the call from home that made my patient cry.