“I’m afraid, Mr. Swanson, I only have bad news. At this point, all we can do is treat your symptoms. There simply is no cure.”
The man’s mouth falls open, his red-streaked eyes pop wide. “But Doc, how can that be? All these foundations and scientists. The universities. I mean, you folks have all been working on this for years and years and years...right?” With shaky legs he makes a short pace back and forth along the exam table. “Symptoms?” His head drops. “Okay...I guess that’ll have to do...for now. I really can’t take this any longer. I can’t breathe. I can’t sleep. I can’t think. My chest feels like it wants to explode.” He starts to say more, but is forced to turn away as he breaks into a deep, raspy cough. It takes a moment to recover and when he does his fists are clinched tight, his face red. “You have to do something Dr. David, I...I—“
He stops, his look one of defeat, and drops like a heap into the corner chair. “I’m so sorry. This is just all so unfair,” he says, tears now creeping down his cheeks. His wife looks over to the doctor, then nestles up next to her husband.
“Come on, dear. You’ll get through this. Remember my sister had the same thing, and she’s just fine.”
Swanson meets her gaze. “That’s a matter of opinion.”
Taking another deep sigh, Dr. David straightens and moves over to comfort the man. But just as he sets his hand on his shoulder, Swanson erupts into another coughing fit. It goes on for some time, his wife and the doctor finally helping him over to the sink, where he hacks up a thick wad of phlegm.
“My, for not being a smoker, this is really tearing into your lungs,” says Dr. David. He turns and quickly writes something on a nearby pad of paper, pulls loose the sheet, and then sets it on the corner of the sink. ”This prescription will help with the immense buildup down there, and more so will help you get some sleep. By the looks of things here today, what you really need is some rest.”
It’s now Mrs. Swanson turn to sigh, and as she does she tugs on the doctor’s jacket, pulling him to the side, “He’s had this cold for three whole days now; you’d think it was going to be the end of the world...”