"Hello, Mr. Smith?" Dr. Vanity was a heavy set man, messy dark hair on the sides, balding on top. As I looked down at him I could see sweat beads running down his scalp, which was the irony about it all considering it was snowing and blowing outside and I was wearing my lab coat because I was freezing.
"This is Dr. Steven Vanity from Shoreline Medical...
"Yep... Yes... that's what I wanted to talk to you about. Yep... Well, her hemoglobin has been about 6 for the past two weeks, but she seems to be taking a turn for the... yep... yeah... and that's what I wanted to talk to you about...
"You see, her hemoglobin has dropped now to 5. She has a temperature of 102 right now, and we're having trouble keeping it down. I hate to say this to you, but she's taking a backward step here, and, really, the only thing that's going to help her is if we give her some blood..."
He leaned back in his chair. He took a deep breath, wiped his brow. "I'm just to the point there's not much I can do for her if we don't give her blood....
"Hello... Hello..." He set the receiver down. He turned to look at me. "Well, I guess he wanted none of that."
"What, did he hang up on you," I said.
"Yep." He puckered his lip, wiped his brow again. "I told him she needed blood for me even to have a chance to save her, and he said, 'okay,' and hung up."
"Well, I guess you document that and do your best."
"It's unfortunate," he said, swinging his chair around and setting his feet on an empty chair. He wiped his brow again. "I really like that lady. I'd hate to see her go. She's only 51. She's young enough her body would have a fighting chance if only we could use the tools we have."
I placed my hands in my pockets, twiddling a vial of Ventolin in my pocket, and said nothing. The doctor sighed. That about says it all.
"My hands are tied," he said.