meticulous attention to detail. But three months later Jim told me that Leguerre had been readmitted and died of an overwhelming infection.
The word was filtering through the hospital that our Haitian patients were suffering from the same disease that the media was calling the “gay plague.” The beginnings of the backlash were appearing—transportation workers refusing to escort patients for x-rays; nurses worrying about our patients in semiprivate rooms sharing bathrooms with other patients; interns skipping rectal examinations; surgical residents dragging their feet on performing biopsies and necessary operations.
Back at the office, Margaret had started seeing gay men with the syndrome. Although she made no announcement, there was no mistaking the fact by those of us who shared the office. Some were stereotypically and openly gay. They dressed effeminately and talked with our secretaries as if they were sisters. Others were recognized only because they came back time and again with the same men. Although some were resigned, and all held up under the strain with remarkable dignity and fortitude, most were anxious. Their anxiety was not helped by Margaret’s schedule, which frequently had her in two places at once. There were frequent outbursts of anger as they waited. Some with Kaposi’s sarcoma had large, red lesions on their arms and faces that announced to the whole world that they were gay and had AIDS, like a modern-day scarlet letter. Some came with their parents. Others came with their lovers. Occasionally couples would know each other and make pleasant conversation about mutual acquaintances or interests. Usually, however, the mood was somber, especially if there were a particularly sick or wasted patient in the group.
I had many discussions about this new development riding to and from work with Amal. She is an Egyptian Christian physician who lived with an American family in my neighborhood and worked in our office doing research with Mark on hypertension. She was fascinated with everything American and was an incurable optimist