The Mind Reader (2015)
“Purely professional lunch date, you know. Maybe you can shed some more insight on Mrs. Kendricks.”
He paused for a beat, at a loss for words. “And if you don’t mind if I could tell you what other patients I had and if you could share anything about them with me?”
“Why, yes, doctor,” she said. “I’d be more than happy to help you out. I’m sure you’re only beginning to learn about some of the individuals on this floor.”
Chara told him her lunch period and he promised to meet her downstairs at that time.
His thoughts, though, left the nurse puzzled. She couldn’t tell if he wanted to actually date her socially and used that as an excuse to meet with her or if he needed help decoding some the patients’ needs. His thoughts were a bit murky on this topic. Either way, Chara thought, I’m sitting with one dashing doctor at lunch.
She didn’t have time to ponder it too seriously, though – not at the moment. She still had one more new patient to see and then it was time to check in on all the others.
As she walked into Ted Langley’s room, the energy level nosedived. It was as if she were entering a funeral home. The room was void of any energy, almost as if the patient were dead. Of course, Chara knew better, but from her quick reading of the room, she knew the patient was depressed – very depressed.
“Mr. Langley,” Chara said as cheerfully as she could muster in such a dismal energy-sucking atmosphere.
The man barely acknowledged her. She thought she noticed a slight nod of his head. “My name is Chara and I’ll be your registered nurse today,” she said.
“What happened to the one I had yesterday?” he grumbled barely audible. “Did I run her out of town?”
“Heaven’s no!” Chara answered. “Today is her day off.”
“Oh,” he said.
Chara tried to engage him in a bit more in conversation. “You sound sad that you didn’t run her off.”
“No, not really,” he said as he sighed heavily. “It’s just that it seems I run all the women out of my life. First my only daughter and now my wife. So it’s not surprising if a run off a nurse or two. What the hell, why not?”
Chara waited to hear his thoughts. Invariably, people speak and then add their thoughts to their verbal words. But he didn’t. Come to think of it, she couldn’t hear his thoughts as she entered his room either. She was just too busy thinking about the new doctor to notice at the time.
Was he that depressed he didn’t have any thoughts? Chara never met a person whose thoughts she couldn’t eventually decipher. Some individuals were easier to read than others. Dr. Renault was a great example of that. His thoughts came through so clearly that he drowned out the physical sounds in the hallway.
The nurse read over his chart and then sat down next to him. “You were admitted because they thought you might have heart problems,” she said, “but it says here all the tests for heart disorders show up negative. Are you in any pain now?”
The patient glowered at her. Chara had never met such a miserable soul as this one. “My chest is still tight. I don’t feel like myself and . . . “ His voice trailed off for a moment before he finished his sentence. “. . . I don’t have any ambition.”
Ted paused again for a beat and said, “But I’m sure you don’t want to hear any of my problems.”
“But that’s where you’re wrong, Mr. Langley,” Chara said softly, “that’s exactly what I’m here for. There’s no way any of us in this hospital can help you heal unless we know everything that’s troubling you.”
“Even personal problems?” he asked. His hazel eyes shone bright, despite his outward sorrowful demeanor.
Chara laughed softly. “Especially those. I am a firm believer that medicine should be a holistic treatment of the individual. No one ever got healed with prescription drugs alone. But if we know what’s bothering you on a personal level, then sometimes we can discover what’s actually going on in other parts of the body as well.”
“You’re the first medical professional I’ve ever heard talk like that.” He sat up a little in his bed.
Chara was still puzzled, though. He was the first person she’d met whose thoughts weren’t reverberating through her mind. She was sure his depression wasn’t the cause of the immense silence in his head.
She had worked with many depressed patients and was able to tap their thoughts. Some of them were even easier to read than those of a well-adjusted individual. They pondered very little else except their sorrow and sadness.
“Mr. Langley, I don’t mean to pry into your personal life. I know you’ve already been through enough, considering that your every move is monitored by the media. But, more often than not, talking out personal problems with someone can help. As a nurse, I have an obligation to keep all our discussions confidential. I won’t even reveal them to your doctors.”
She paused for a beat. “If I hear something you say that may lead me to think we can treat it medically, I’ll just mention it without ever telling them how I discovered it. You’ve gone through – and probably still going through a hell of a lot of stress.”
Ted laughed. Chara looked at him surprised. He had a delightful laugh and she told him so. “Saying I’m under a ‘hell of a lot of stress’ is like saying that the Atlantic Ocean is a puddle.
“I’ve discovered in trying to talk to people, that most people don’t want to hear about the problems of a bankrupt multi-millionaire. I’ve had more breaks and have been vastly more fortunate than the majority of people out there. They don’t believe I have anything to complain about.”
“Sir, I’m going to speak frankly and I hope this doesn’t offend you.”
He nodded her to continue. “I’m stuck in this room. I suppose you can’t offend me too much.”
“Any person who experiences a divorce has the right to be upset. Even those with lots of money. Any person who has to declare bankruptcy has the right to feel badly – especially when you had a fall larger than most people. Money alone doesn’t insulate you from problems or from feeling sorrow over your problems.”
“Don’t I know that?”
Was he sounding a bit brighter already? Could it be that simple? Chara wasn’t sure anything she said could resonate with this mystery man. She had never met anyone like him before. She just couldn’t, for the life of her, read his mind.
Ted Langley proved to be the first enigmatic person she had ever met. She wasn’t sure how to handle him.