"Your blood work shows elevated liver enzymes. Do you drink alcohol?" I asked a patient at the free clinic, a few weeks ago.
"Lots of it, Doc.... a quart of Vodka every night," the man replied in a typical Caribbean accent.
"A quart every day? That's the reason your liver's messed up a little," I said.
"That's the only way I can keep warm, Doc, I don't have a heavy coat."
"Where do you live?" I asked.
"In a tent beside the homeless shelter," he said.
I was at a loss of words for a moment. "Try to cut down on the Vodka," I said hesitantly.
"Don't feel bad for me. I was not always in this situation. Life will roll on, maann, with or without a coat," he said with a huge smile, and held out his hand. That Caribbean accent again!
"Yes it will," I said, as I shook his hand.
"Next time you are at the homeless shelter, look me up," he said as he left the exam room, and left me thinking.
A few days after that conversation, a deer hit my SUV and damaged the driver side front door. I was okay, and there was no problem with driving the SUV. The damaged door just didn't look good. As you all know, getting any kind of car repair work done is a pain. Rental cars, juggling schedules, calling the insurance company....and so on and on. But I started with it.
Anyway, on my next scheduled visit at the homeless shelter, I actually looked up our Caribbean gentleman! He seemed to be pleasantly surprised.
"You really did show up," he said. We chatted for a couple of minutes. And then something caught my eye. There was a shopping cart by his bed, neatly stacked with about fifty beer cans, of at least 10-15 different brands.
"You are allowed to have that much alcohol inside the shelter?" I asked, pointing to the beer cans.
"Oh no maann, these are all empty," he said.
"Empty? For recycling?" I asked.
"Oh no... I just pour water in whatever brand I want to enjoy," he said. "Life will roll on, maann, with or without the beer in the can." There was that charming Caribbean accent again!
"I'll see you at the clinic in the next couple of weeks," I said.
As I walked to my SUV, the damaged door glared back at me. I looked at my watch. I could swing by the repair shop, call the insurance agent, get the estimate and then head home. Just then a voice echoed in my mind....
"Life will roll on, maann, with or without the door fixed!"
I smiled to myself, and headed straight home.
"In three words, I can sum up everything I have learned about life. It goes on." ~ Robert Frost