I am a healthcare professional, I treat sick patients everyday, death is not uncommon in the practice of my trade. How do I mourn the death of such a dear friend and a mentor? With great sadness, humility, gratefulness and lots of treasured memories. My dear friend, our dear friend Mr. Donald Correll recently passed away. But my memory still so vivid and alive. I was one of his doctors, I have seen him numerous times and I have enjoyed every time seeing him. He is the kind of patient who becomes a friend and mentor. His story, my patient’s story is my story after all.
I still remember: the year was 1995, month was September. A surgeon in the hospital I was working had consulted me on his case. I was then a young medical graduate, a medical cowboy, fresh from GI Fellowship, on the first week of practice determined to make it out all alone in Texas. The surgeon who was rather perplexed wanted my help in managing him: Mr. Donald Correll was in excruciating pain. With his permission I sat down by his bed side, I listened to his story and without ordering any other investigation, I diagnosed and started treating him. The next day in round, he was already walking on the hospital hallway and a broad smiling face greeted me: “You saved my life!” he said, holding on the thin stainless steel shaft of the IV pole, his face alight with the aura of generosity and gratitude as big as Texas. My heart was filled, filled with joy, confidence and gratitude!
I had started a brand new practice: it was a tremendous leap of faith, no one was there to watch over my shoulders. Born and raised in Bangladesh, I loved America since my intelligence developed and am a total sucker of American Free Enterprise System. I headed to the hinterlands of Texas all alone with this belief, leaving all my support system at the University Medical Center turning down offer of being a faculty member and other jobs. This was a time of exhilaration, this was a time of fear and apprehension, it was a time of vast potential or total doom.
I needed reconfirmation, I needed people to believe in me, I needed people to say: Yes you can. I needed to prove to myself if not anyone else. And Mr. Correll was just the person! I am so grateful, so humbled. People like him and others made me successful, they allowed me to deliver my promise to myself that I would be by the side of common people out in the community, my story will be their story, their story will be mine, my care will be bare, down to humanity, no frills attached. It is the spirit and good will of people like Donald who come to me as patients and friends that enriches the blood flowing in my veins, this is why I went to med school, this is why I spent my time in research and advanced training, this is the direction and lesson my parents had taught me, this is the religion I follow.
Donald, a Texas rancher, later became my teacher: teaching me about land, cattle and farming and how to care for them. He is a great teacher. Today, he may not be with us among the mortals, but he is with us in spirit, and in friendship, these never die. So, my friend Donald, prayer comes from heart, it is a mutual feeling of heavenly experience. I will miss you, but you will never be forgotten. Your legacy lives on, you do not know what you have done for me.