Ryan Mentock

An Incomprehensive Catalog of Things I've Made and Words I've Written.

The Next Patient

I wrote this ballad to describe a situation many primary care providers face every day. Every provider carries the weight of the problems for all of their patients and the memories last their entire careers, but they still move on, maintain their composure, and do their best for the next patient. The story is written from the perspective of my Healthcare Hero nominee, Dr. Sabrina Mentock at Family Care, PA.

“The Next Patient”
by Ryan Mentock

I met her when she was about 6 years old.
Cute little girl, parents were cool.
She liked stickers and had a little sister.
They moved a bit further away for a few years,
and I didn’t see her as often.

I saw her again when she was 11.
Still seemed happy, maybe just awkward.
She laughed when I offered her a sticker.
The next day, she borrowed mom’s razor,
and slit her wrists in her room.

She didn’t kill herself then.
Her mom found her in time.
The family had good insurance.
She went to a special hospital,
and I didn’t see her as often.

She came back when she was 14.
She now wanted to be called He.
His parents were supportive.
They visited us because they trusted us,
and his parents thought that we could help.

He did well for a while.
His parents said he made progress.
Things were getting better.
They resumed their normal lives,
and I didn’t see him as often.

He tried again, this time with pills.
His mom’s prescription.
They were locked up in a cabinet.
He waited until his parents were asleep,
and tried to swallow the whole bottle.

His mom woke up early the next morning.
She found him in time.
They went to a new hospital.
He started new medication,
and I didn’t see him as often.

His mom brought him back when he was 17.
Eyes wide open, smiling, and happy.
They were planning for college.
He came in to complete school forms,
and still didn’t know what he wanted to study.

He seemed to be doing alright.
He had friends, he had hobbies.
He had goals, he had plans.
I thought he’d go off to school,
and I wouldn’t see him as often.

He turned 18 years old a month later.
Walmart sold him a shotgun.
He bought it at the counter.
A case of soda, a mini-fridge,
and a shotgun in his cart.

He had one bad day.
He shot himself in the head.
His mom found him after work.
She saw his face destroyed,
and now she sees it often.

She tries to be brave.
Her other daughter is doing well.
She knew her sister was in trouble.
They come in together now,
and things are getting better.

Then the next patient has diabetes.
Or hurt their knee, or has the flu.
They have their own problems.
We move on to the next patient,
because they need help, too.