The Hungarians

The Hungarians

An excerpt from "Adventures in Medicine" - Coming Fall 2010:

     “So, Richard, will you look in on my fellow Hungarian, John, who is in terrible pain from prostate cancer,” my old buddy, Miklos, said with an accent like Bela Legosi.  “I think he needs some hospice.”

      The tone of his voice was more than a request…an offer that I could not refuse.   “Of course,” I replied knowing that I would be dealing with another unique gentleman from the Old World.  After many years of appropriate treatment, John’s  prostatic cancer had metastasized to his back.  However, his pain had been poorly controlled, a result of his cultural reluctance to address it and the minimizing of it to his physician.  John was bedbound and miserable, unable to move without nauseating pain.   His quality of life made him wish for a quick death.  After initial protestations and further encouragement from Miklos, he agreed to accept hospice a few days later, desperate for relief.  With the combination of narcotic, antiemetic, and antinflammatory medication, the hospice team was able to get his symptoms and pain under control with dramatic improvement in a matter of hours.  

     I visited John often over the next nine months.  My time with him and his wife became as much a social as a medical call.  He was able to return to his beloved garden and yard work.  It was impossible to keep him down even as the cancer progressed making him weak and cachetic.  We could control his pain, but we could not slow his ravishing disease.   John was a man of perpetual motion to the end, sometimes to his detriment with the hematomas, abrasions, and finger dislocations from his falls to prove it.  The day before his death, I visited him for the last time.  Barely responsive, too weak to stand  to greet me as he normally did, John, nevertheless, perked up enough to sit with me and his family at the dining room table to toast our friendship with his homemade wine, the fruit grown from his garden and squeezed from his ancient Hungarian Press.  John was even able to take a few bites of Pelachenca, a Hungarian desert crepe, made especially for our last visit.  We bid our final, respectful farewell.   A true gentleman, he always honored my presence, and I will always honor his memory.

     “So, Richard, you did good with my friend, John,” Miklos said after I informed him of John’s death, including, of course, all the details of our last meeting .  It was a rare compliment coming from a man, like John, who had lived a full life mixed with the ravage of war, torture from communists, and fighting for a new life in America.   Yes, I had done “good” with the help of the Odyssey Team.

coming soon

"Adventures in Medicine"