I was at work the other day when I received one of those phone calls. You know, the phone call that everyone dreads, with the voice on the other end saying something like this: “Hello, I am calling from (insert emergency facility here), and I’ve been authorized to tell you that your (insert loved one here) has been air lifted to our facility for treatment. If you are unable to drive yourself, you should find someone to bring you here as soon as possible.”
Hours later, my daughter, my son, and I stood together outside an ICU treatment room listening as the medical staff performed an intimate, uncomfortable procedure on my already broken husband. Luckily, we’d learned that his injuries were treatable, and after a week of hospital care, he’d be coming home to continue his recovery while we look after him. Hallelujiah! Still, we clung to each other there in the hallway–exhausted and frazzled– struggling to comprehend all that was going on around us.
At that moment my son remarked, “What an unfortunate name. . .” and my daughter and I looked to see what had caught his attention.
The shock/trauma unit employs a Dr. Kephart. Only the letter board didn’t say DR. KEPHART; it said DR. K PHART.
Someone–a coworker, perhaps a custodian–had removed the “e”, effectively transforming the doctor’s good name into a bit of potty-themed onomatopoeia. Don’t ask us how we know the absent letter was intentional; we just know. And for a few moments we brushed away a heavy cloud of anxiety by letting ourselves in on the joke: Paging Doctor Phart. . .paging Dr. K. Phart!
There is no doubt in my mind–not the tiniest bit–that dear Dr. Kephart knows his name has been tampered with by a mischievous gremlin. I believe absolutely that Dr. Kephart is taking one for the team; that he knows a sprinkle of light-heartedness might go a long way toward comforting people like us–people with scary news to digest and anxious hours to pass.
So here’s to you, Doctor Phart! Thanks for becoming a doctor so you could be there to help mend my husband’s wounded body. And thanks for giving me a smile each time I make that long walk back the hallway to the ICU.