She just kept on sitting in the waiting room with her two young sons running all over the place. I had already seen her for her prenatal appointment and since my staff speaks about as much Spanish as she spoke English helped her set up a time for next week. It had been a busy afternoon filled with fifteen patients and I really wanted to just get out of the office and go home, but I worried that we'd be ready to close the doors and she'd still be there with her kids.
She had called a friend to come pick her up, but she admitted that it was beginning to look like her friend wasn't going to be able get off work to come for a while. She told me that she had walked here with her sons, but at nine months pregnant and with the rain starting up she didn't know if she could walk for another hour and half to get home! Rolling my eyes I told her, "Dos minutos."
I dictated one more chart note, called a patient's family, and refilled a couple of more medications and piled everyone into my car for a field trip. I knew the direction where she lived and have may patients who lived out here way, but had never really been there. The ten minute car ride was actually quite a nice time to get to know her and her boys loved the idea of riding in a car with the doctor. She had lived in the US for eight years and felt guilty that she hadn't learned any English. She still had some family in Mexico including an eleven year old son who she missed terribly.
We turned into her trailer park and the feeling of hopelessness just hit me in the face. Rusted out appliances sat in between homes. Either broken pavement or unpaved roads connected trailer to trailer. Occasionally a flowering plant hung outside a front door, but these were the rare exceptions. Kids poked their heads through the windows wanting to go out and play in the rain with no room to run and jump inside. It was easy to see how this trailer park was a center for disease and a feeling of destitute.
I dropped this family off at their trailer which happened to be at the end of the park. She thanked me and I got back into the car to go to my home where all the roads are paved, no one walks an hour and a half for anything except exercise, the yards are filled with flowers and mowed lawns, and my kids feel free to run all throughout my relative palace.
One of the things I love about my job is how at any moment out of the blue I can put put in my place and so humbled.