— NARRATIVE ESSAYS —

Landing on an Aircraft Carrier

Alexander W. Chessman, MD

Fam Med. 2022;54(1):61-62.

DOI: 10.22454/FamMed.2022.610853

Daughter sits on other side of hospital bed,
as I bend leeward to examine mother’s delicate frame.
     Daughter near bellows, “Those kidneys
     have been failing for two years now!”

Jet in the sky circles
a floating grey deck. How many minutes to
bingo fuel? Time to signal a flying tanker for support?
When do you give up and just head for land?

     “Transplant office won’t tell us nothin’ ‘bout
     what’s happening with her donor. I don’t
     want my mother going on dialysis.
     I’d give her mine, but we don’t match.”

Daughter has recruited the donor by Facebook post.
She even knows the donor. Knows that colonoscopy
is clear. All samples and scans drawn, labeled, filed.
Breasts, cervix, liver cleared.

     “Office won’t tell us nothin’! We even
     got clearance from the donor to
     see her medical record. Everything is still
     up in the air.”

Can we signal this donor to land?
To bring this fresh kidney on board to save her mother’s life? To
keep her mother from wires, tubes,
machine?

     “We don’t want to see the donor’s chart. We
     just want a Yes or No.”
If No, she’ll radio out again for another
kidney.

Or is it her mother circling solo above? Is someone waving off
her mother’s approach, as she calls down to the deck?
Running low on fuel. On
time.

Mid yell, the daughter starts
to cry. In a flash I see the child commands
the deck. She is the one waving off her
mommy.

Can we teach you how to refuel in mid-air?

     We don’t match, and I can’t give you my kidney.
     I don’t want you stuck up
     alone in the thin
     sky.

Held above by gossamer wind, and a tanker
squirting over to you another
handful of hours to
fly.

Lead Author

Alexander W. Chessman, MD

Affiliations: Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC

Corresponding Author

Alexander W. Chessman, MD

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