Our first visit nearly brings you to tears.
I hand you a diabetes diagnosis. One full point too high on one blood test, and now the concept you had of your health is overturned.
“I don’t know… how this happened,” you say.
I don’t know how to reply. I gesture with a nod and furrow of my brow for you to continue.
“I run so much” you mumble before switching to Tagalog, our shared language, “paano na ‘to, doctora?” What happens now, doctor?
I mention metformin, but you tell me you don’t want medications. We focus on lifestyle changes. Switch white rice to brown, fruits to vegetables. On our second visit, your blood draw reveals a stubbornly high number. We discuss metformin again. After our third visit, you start to take it.
On visit four, we discuss statins for your cholesterol. “I can’t afford,” you say. We go over costs together. We look at coupons together. On visit five, you start taking a statin. Then you get a rash.
On visit six, I ready my apology. I brace for reprimand. I have been cursed at for far less.
But you hear and you hold my apology. And in exchange you simply say, “No, doctora, okay lang.” It’s okay. “I know you’re on my team. We all make mistakes.”
I don’t remember exactly what we spoke about the rest of that visit; maybe starting another statin eventually, one less likely to cause the same reaction. Maybe about how your parents are doing or how you hope to visit the Philippines next year. What I do remember — what echoes in my head to this day — is this:
I know you’re on my team.
Our last visit nearly brings me to tears.