MUSC Writes - 24 Hours
National Day of Writing Entries 10-20-11
Simply click here to submit your own entry. Submit approximately 100 words, along with your first name and a time of day. Multiple submissions are welcome, and this page will be updated with new submissions regularly.
This Year's Entries
Arriving at Citadel Mall to board the Carta Express Bus with only a minute or two to spare. Sped the entire way there! Can't miss the free ride. I've made it, in spite of my doubts! Scoping the seats to find the right spot to sit. Actually, any place will do. Giving myself the final touches en route to work. Eagerly chatting with friends and new acquaintances. Hit a bump in the road. A CofC student remarks, "what a way to the roof"! Laugh it off. First, stop Jonathan Lucas and Calhoun Sts. Gather my belongings. Exit with enthusiasm, even if it’s raining. Another day, another dollar. Each step brings me a little closer to my building(OEM). Smile and wave to colleagues as I pass them along the way. They're my MUSC Family. Swipe my badge to enter the building. Take the stairs to the second floor where I reside. Pray my knees and/or ankles don't give on the way up. Open my office door. Exhale, my work day can begin. No frustrations, I didn't drive. Log in on the computer. 7:31am answer the first phone call of the day. The caller's surprised I answered. "What time do you get here? I expected to leave you a message." Surprise! I'm hither. Process requests and answer e-mails that came in after I vacated the premises last evening. Electronically send confirmations for room assignments. Fax a few as well. Answering numerous questions regarding the BEB & DDB new rooms throughout the day. Everyone wants to meet in these spaces before the dedication. Can't we all get along? Problem of the day. The LCD Board is down in the Colbert Library Building. Talked to my OCIO contact three times already. The problem persists. My ETS contact continues to e-mail. Unsuccessful attempts. Lunchtime. Leave through the back door. Stroll to Roper, ART and Main Hospital cafeterias respectively. Buy lunch and dinner for two. Standing in the Horseshoe. Time allowed. Enjoying the fresh air. Looked at the board in passing during lunch. It's still down. I've come full circle. Returned to the office through the front door. Back in the saddle again. Second half of the day is underway. Call OCIO again. Please try, try until the system works. E-mail my ETS contact. Problem solved. Yes! Moving forward with scheduling meetings, seminars, workshops, exams, In-Service and dept. retreats. Training someone on Room View. Where did the hours go? It's time to close up shop at 4pm. I'm thoroughly pleased with offering assistance! Mission accomplished! Pack up getting ready to go. Jog down the stairs (yea right). Walking tall back to Calhoun and Jonathan Lucas Sts, from whence I came. Wait on the bus. Anytime it arrives is alright with me. Their gas not mine. Carta, take me away. MUSC thanks for today’s memories. Until tomorrow. Have a good evening!
“Soldiers at Risk and Dying Children”
As a chaplain there is nothing for me more disconcerting and heartbreaking to hear and know than to know that a pediatric patient is dying. That’s the news I processed on Monday as I tried to deliver sensitive pastoral care to the hurting family and our very dedicated staff. Earlier that day I received an email from a chaplain colleague who is overseas serving as a chaplain with one of our military units from South Carolina. Death is certainly present in his military theatre and even more than that I am concerned for his safety and the safety of the troops with whom he works and serves. On top of that his email reminded me of my 19 year old nephew who is in harm’s way serving as a medic in the regular US Army in Afghanistan. Peace is the word of the day for me as I think of serving dying pediatric patients, their families and our staff and hearing of the dangers faced by our servicepersons--some family members and some colleagues. Peace is the word. Hopefully the kind of Peace that passes all understanding.
I am sitting here contemplating how to convince all my students to study and learn the information that I know they will need when they become licensed practitioners. Teaching is an art that I am still, after 30 years, trying to perfect! I love teaching, but in some ways it is so frustrating. You want to share your enthusiasm with your students so they want to learn. But at the same time, you can't make them learn it, and even trying hard to show them the "why" they need to know it just doesn't always work when they have not yet been in the room with a real patient. Role playing and classroom/laboratory exercises just isn't "real". But they have to learn, practice, and be ready prior to meeting these "real" patients. I keep trying to console myself that I only teach a few credit hours toward their degree and they'll learn it all eventually before they walk across that graduation stage; going off into the world to care for me as a patient. I know they have learned a lot; I just hope they have learned enough.
I just walked into my chairman's office to say hello to him this morning when I couldn't help but overhear one of our second year students in the conference room next door. He was on a phone interview for an administrative residency position. He sounded so poised, articulate, enthusiastic, excited about his future, and eager to make the world a better place for patients and staff. My chairman commented that students have been using the conference room for the past week for their phone interviews, and he can't help but overhear them. They all sound so impressive. We have amazing students.
Ten mice are dead by my hands this morning. After they are anesthetized, their necks must be broken before any research can begin. I close my eyes every time I have to perform this act... the cracking sound makes me shutter. A coworker says, "Just think, if it wasn't for your research, then these mice wouldn't be alive at all. They feel no pain when they are sacrificed and at least they lived a nice life first." That calms my spirit along with knowing that my research really can make a difference in the lives of humans. I ponder about the MUSC doctors and nurses and wonder how they must feel after losing a patient if I feel this unnerved about mice dying. I then realize that these mice must be sacrificed to benefit mankind. Without animal research things such as cancer drugs, insulin for diabetes, and more efficient wound healing would have never been discovered. Research truly is the starting point of all healing.
As an employee it is strange and awkward to be on the other side as a patient's family member...sitting in mother's room waiting on her to come back from a procedure...we've been here most of a week now with periods of frantic attention followed by a strange calm while we wait for the next crisis/thing to be done ...nurses ...doctors ...residents (all kinds) ...fellows...students....student nurses...respiratory techs...housekeeping....room service...all of these dedicated individuals bustling around combine into one giant team dedicated toward making mother well again....wow! what a wonderful place!
Adrenaline and sadness quickly replace drowsiness as I enter the trauma bay and see the medical staff doing CPR on a patient. The charge nurse tells me there is family in the conference room. When I introduce myself, the patient’s wife grabs my hand. “Will you pray for us, Chaplain?” We bow our heads and I ask God’s comfort and strength for them and for their loved one. Long minutes pass while they share with me their memories of him, anticipating the doctors’ arrival with bad news. Gently, I help them begin the journey of grief on which God will walk alongside them.
As I wait for a professor to come over to our body and answer our questions, I review the cuts we've made today. Flexor carpi radials, flexor digitorum superficialis, palmaris longus... no wait, she doesn't have one of those, what is that muscle then? These big words are giving me a headache - actually, my headache is probably from breathing in pure formaldehyde for the past hour and a half. Just think, another hour of this, and it'll be back to the books. Maybe I'll have time cook dinner as a study break, what do I cook? My stomach's growling, why am I hungry right now? I'm holding a skinned cadaver arm, this is wrong on so many levels!
My mind is running wild, but in the midst of it all, it hits me. This is my life. This is practically just the beginning of it too. This is epic. What a rush.
Today, like most days, I begin writing my progress notes on my patients. Each day I write them, I'm reminded of how fortunate I am to have a loving family. We often take family for granted but on this service, I see what often can result from not having received appropriate nurturing and discipline in the home. I also see what can happen when a child some may consider a "lost cause" receives that same nurturing and discipline that they've been lacking. This is the satisfaction of what we do. We take someone who is damaged and begin the process of building them back up. This is why I went into medicine.
Tired of uncomprehendingly struggling with my Western blots, I finally asked a postdoc to show me how to use his ECL kit. I made an awkward attempt at small talk on the way to the detection equipment. We are both people of few words, so it fell very flat. He pulled a lever, punched some buttons, and squirted a little liquid onto my membrane. Moments later, my band appeared on the computer monitor. After a week of staring at empty films, the image on the screen shone out like an angel in black and white. I felt a little deflated when he told me that I was seeing a negative of what I should get, but at least I saw something other than that darned gray sheet.
It is almost exactly one week until the official dedication of the James E. Clyburn Research Center. This will be the dawning of a new era at MUSC. It will provide beautiful new educational space for the Colleges of Graduate Studies, Medicine, and Pharmacy. It will house some of our most exciting research – from regenerative medicine, to biomedical imaging, to drug discovery, to genetics. It will be a focal point for our research collaborations with Clemson and USC, and it will be where intellectual property will be transformed from concepts to reality, helping drive our entrepreneurial contributions . And all of this is happening at the central crossroads of our campus – there is no telling just how far it will reach.
For every three enthusiastic responses and rekindled hope in the students I teach in the Center for Academic Excellence, I am encouraged and feel competent, but the one that stays with me, wakes me up in the night is the one that leaves still feeling dejected and scared. I say often that scared is a child's word, but I understand that student's fear of failure and the resultant disappearance of a dream. Today began with such promise—I met with a class to teach about the importance of audience and the writer's responsibility to the reader. It could have been boring, but I am the child and grandchild of terrific storytellers and the ham in me loves to entertain. The nursing students were delightful and laughed at my silly stories, but I think they learned what I wanted them to.
Later we celebrated the success of a student who had struggled but overcome and passed her boards. We had lunch at California Dreaming. Then I worked with three students who, pardon the medical metaphor, were inoculated with a method for studying that helped them realize their own power as future health care providers. They left my office smiling. I smiled, too. But my day ended with a student who is up against a deadline and worried. She has lost confidence in herself, and I could not convince her that she is a capable, effective physician who can and will pass the next exam. Maybe we are both tired at the end of the week, and everything will be better in the morning. I love my work. I want to teach, to help, to give students my belief in their strengths--most of the time it works.
Last Year's Entries
I’m going to Atlanta to see “The Bodies” exhibit in a day or so, and I feel nothing. I think about the recent visit of Christine Montross, who spoke about the various emotions of medical students going into the Gross Anatomy lab for the first time, and I realize that “The Bodies” exhibit must pale by comparison. Still, I want to feel that this will somehow be an awesome or a sublime experience. The bodies will be “plastinated,” some process I have heard involves the literal bodies being transmogrified into a permanent plastic. The whole idea sounds fake and lacks the early 20th century smell of formaldehyde. It lacks the grotesque backwardness of cadavers that, while they lack the blood and particular moisture of living tissue, share with living wounds a repulsive quality that plastic could never replicate. But of course, this is just what I think, not what I know. I’ve only visited a cadaver lab once, and this weekend will introduce me to plastination for the first time.
I’ve heard the bodies may be former prisoners from China, and, knowing I don’t have all the information I should, all I wonder about is how strange it may be to be in a hall of entirely Asian mannequins, perhaps like I’ve been dropped into some department store in Beijing. I worry about my lack of ethics, the thought I keep chasing away that the history of cadaver use is full of ethically dubious forms of grave robbery—despite our modern recent effort to make the process clean, morally speaking. They are just bodies, I think, and any regret I feel about paying money to see ill-gotten dissections would be better spent on the unjustly treated living people in China and everywhere else. I worry that I’m lazy and cynical, ethically speaking.
It's 7:00am. The building is dark. A favorite time. Adrenaline flows from the walk in. Pixels flare and a new workday is born. Yesterday's dilemmas resolve into today's challenges. Assurances fly through the ether. Small wins are harvested. It's 7:30am. Smile. Good morning team!
As an educator I have the privilege today of reviewing and instructing our 2 newest employees on the systems, equipment, devices, and procedures used in the care of our patients. This approach to orientation permits the new employee to focus on tasks and patients, when matched with their preceptor, with a foreknowledge of what they will encounter in the clinical area. It is always gratifying to see the glow on their faces when they ‘get it’.
Reading the day’s first email messages: clinical trials seeking patients… our new allergist starts today… award for education excellence to be proofed… patient satisfaction scores are up! … resident’s quality improvement projects to be published … Dr. Palesch received a new grant …. Stimulus research funds pouring in! …. message of thanks for our palliative care team from a deceased patient’s family… pledges for the endowment honoring Dr. Newton Brackett continue to come in…. Employee of the Quarter nomination to be reviewed…. I wonder…how many other places could I be involved in so many different wonderful things?
The day starts. Already I have about 25 emails to answer from last night mostly wanting appointments or something more. It’s funny how people will send emails at 2:00 am in the morning! Do they actually think I’m here to answer? It is funny. This is a normal day. We start with writing appointments and getting ready for all of the unexpected for the day. The fall is usually the busiest time here but it now seems that every semester seems to run into the other. Never a dull moment! The telephone is ringing, got to go!
It was my first clinical, and I was ready to take on the world. This feeling, however, was short lived. I walked into my patient’s room; he had just come to the floor from the ICU earlier that morning. The ten-inch incision on his head was closed with staples, and the gauze on his neck concealed another surgical wound. As violent as the scars appeared, they did not bother me. It was the smells and sounds of the hospital room that made my head swim. I had to get out. I thought my career as a nurse was over as quickly as it started. I felt incompetent in everything, from the bed bath to taking vitals. As the patient began to wake up, he started to mumble a word over and over again. My instructor could not interpret the slurred speech; a fellow classmate could not understand either. I finally could translate his strained effort. “Daughter.” He kept saying, “Daughter.” The look on his face when he knew I could understand what he said was incredible. At that point I thought, after this roller-coaster day, I’m going to be ok at this. I’m going to be a nurse.
I answer the phone assuming it’s yet another pt. that needs a refill on their medication or to reschedule their appt. Instead, I have a person desperately wanting to be a new cardiology pt. at MUSC. They can’t get in anywhere around town for at least a month. They’re scared beyond belief at their probable diagnosis. I just so happen to have a cancellation in 2 days. The pt. thinks I just hung the moon but really it’s just luck of the draw. My heart smiles because I know peace of mind is on the way to this pt.
The College of Medicine Applicant Interview
A handshake starts the College of Medicine applicant interview process; I explain my role in the College. I inquire about aspects of her application: a semester of study abroad, volunteer work at the local hospital, leadership roles held during college, athletic accomplishments. I ask if there are any questions about MUSC and switch into recruitment mode for the college. The designated time flies quickly; she is easy to talk with and personable.
We part at the elevator as she proceeds to the next interview. I give my words of good luck. A strong candidate I think to myself, and hopefully the future of medicine.
I had been dreading another clinical day with yet another total care patient. Thankfully, I went home, prayed on it and came in the next day with a more upbeat attitude. From the first moment I met my patient, I realized just how lucky I was to be able to care for this wonderful person. Though incapable of caring for himself or talking, he had the most beautiful spirit. When I finally got a laugh from my patient I knew “I made the right choice to go in to nursing…to serve and take care of wonderful people like him!”
My mind is flying, blood pressure is rising, toes are tapping. I’m stuck. Five clinics waiting for me, time is ticking, mind is processing solutions for all their needs. Why won’t this user do what I’ve asked, ever so explicitly, so patiently, so kindly. So much is happening in these precious seconds, which are turning into tens of minutes. I have to fly. I’m stuck. Discovered this issue needs support from an alternate source. I’m moving on, mind flying, feet fleeting, I need roller skates! – I’m your Computer Support Technician
My name is Julia. I work in housekeeping at MUSC in the library. We have 4 staff members, two part-time and two full-time employees. In the library our work consists of dusting, vacuum, wet mopping, and keeping the bathroom cleaned and stocked at all times. We also maintain the glass. Our main interest is the first floor and second floorof the library and the students. Communication with the students and staff is a daily routine. We also help staff set up for different activities when needed. Teamwork is our number one goal. We work together well. MUSC is a wonderful place to work, and we enjoy working here.
For most of us, this is where we work. However, my job gives me a different perspective than most. I’m a videographer. Like many here, I’ve seen things that have brought me to tears. Through the lense of my camera I have seen: terrified children rolling to surgery, heartbroken parents, baby’s being born, tears of joy, 3 year old burn victims crying while being forced to walk, cancer patients receiving treatment, and a 5 year old boy getting a new heart, just to name a few. Everyday, life begins here and life ends here. Everyday, a family is changed forever. Everyday, life happens here.
Today one of my patients expressed her disappointment of missing her 7-year-old great granddaughter’s award ceremony. When I asked what kind of award she was receiving, she told me she had written a book entitled, “CiCi and the Cancer Monster.” She explained that her great grand had watched her mother suffer through breast cancer and the miserable side effects of chemotherapy. In her book she describes the cancer monster as ugly and smelly, as if he “hadn’t showered in 10 years!” She also wrote about how her mother had a blonde wig for going to parties and a green wig for St. Patrick’s Day. In the end, CiCi finally destroys the cancer monster and her mother is saved. The book became so popular that eventually it was published and distributed to numerous children’s hospitals. Apparently there are not many therapeutic books out there for children to read to help them cope with cancer, and this book is just what they needed.
Lola the Therapy Dog
Lola’s day started in the hospital with a cute little boy patting her on the head and saying “Hola! Lola!” “Hola” means hello in Spanish.
Giving Back to our community is one of the many great attributes that is important in the culture of MUSC. This is one of the hundreds of reasons I’m so proud to work at MUSC Children’s Hospital.
Therapy Dogs know how to give back! They visit children in the hospital. Lola has been a therapy dog at Children’s Hospital for four years. Lola has comforted sick children and dying children. Even the sickest of children smile when they see Lola!
Lola recently inspired with a therapy dog product line from Harry Barker. The funds from the therapy dog treats and toys go to Children’s Hospital to help support the therapy dogs. Click here: http://www.harrybarker.com/ and go to the link “giving back” and you’ll see Lola at work!
I’m so proud to work at Children’s Hospital, Medical University of South Carolina!
Pat and Lola
I finish editing the application (“Jen, just make me look good, ok?”) for Citizenship for an Exceptional Scientific Researcher for the US Immigration and Naturalization Service. This guy, this amazing, English-as-a-second language, PhD, cancer biologist guy…wants to stay in the US to build his research career, seeking permanent residency on the merits of his scientific work. He cheerfully accepts that he must work for what I was given at birth—American citizenship. I wonder: what did he dream of the night he made this enormous decision to stay in the US? I read the proposal again. I don’t need to do anything to make him look good: he already “looks” great.
The Kettle Corn Man
I get the call at noon from my friend Lynn, “The kettle corn man is set up in the horseshoe!” Well, I don’t waste a minute heading down there. We moved here from Philadelphia where I worked at the University of Pennsylvania, a giant educational city-state of a place. But as big as it is, I never saw a kettle corn man, nor did I ever taste such a wonderful hot, sweet and salty kind of popcorn on the U Penn campus. Come to think of it, I was never able to walk outside into perfect spring sunshine and wave to my doctor, say hi to the president of the university, see the provost strolling across the lawn and watch the dean buy lunch from an international food vendor – all on the same day. MUSC is the just the right size for that kind thing, and it feels like a family, and I like that a lot.
Two meetings already and it’s only 10:30 a.m.….and I still believe it is a “Wonderful time to be at MUSC!” In my line of work, I have the pleasure of encountering many diverse individuals. I must be honest and admit that some people truly “don’t get it” nor do they try; but so many others truly want to see the MUSC community and the world improve and become accepting of appreciating individual differences.
In an evaluation from a recent workshop a student wrote that they learned “not all Black people steal.” This tells me that some people still have pervasive stereotypes and biases that are ingrained in their psyche that can create negative feelings about certain groups. It is imperative to get to the core of these internalized oppressions and to figure out “what that’s all about” if we are to truly say we are a caring community interested in improving the health and well-being of ALL individuals. So….roll up your sleeves and let’s get to work!
Today is a very busy day.I am organizing a party for this coming Saturday, meeting for lunch with some friends that I haven't seen for weeks, helping my newly mom friend in the morning for some procedure she has to deal with in her lab and finally taking care of my cell lysate samples that have to be ready for when my boss comes back from his trip later on this week.
Making it through the morning was a challenge, but after this seminar at 1 PM, I decide it is time to take a little coffee break. I go to the elevators thinking I could give a call to my fiancé to catch up on his day. Stepping in the elevators, I press “dial” on my cell and all of a sudden, from out of nowhere, my phone dropped, without any bounce, straight between the doors, right into the opened dark corridor that safely keeps us from the elevator shaft. I sat there staring at the hole, preventing the doors from closing, thinking maybe it would get my phone stuck in a safe corner without breaking it. I know you are thinking, "How lucid. 5 stories down. Doesn't sound good." After a couple of long minutes, I sought help from the elevator maintenance staff. They said, "We will see what we can do". It sounded like my phone got taken to the emergency room and things were not looking great already. Miraculously, it came out alright, my phone got a big bruise on its face, but survived the shock of the fall.
Well, it has to make it through post doctoral life now, it can t be that bad right..?
Finally a drive into school that didn’t result in a crack in the windshield! Left the house early to get 10 extra minutes in the pool but lost it waiting for the shuttle in from Hagood. One of three swimming this morning- why don’t more people swim? Quick shower, dash to the lab to check out toxicity results, then off to class. Was told there was a typo on the assignment and that was the reason I was stuck on one problem for an hour searching for isomerization energies. Can’t believe I’ve been here nearly 8 weeks already!
I was so excited to participate in a lively group discussion around the hospital’s role in injury prevention. People from different professional backgrounds were all able to participate and add there skill set to creating the best outcomes. It was truly amazing to see how many different disciplines there are at MUSC and how they each play an integral role.
Like pork sausages on the grill ready to burst with the tiniest pricks, his arms and legs swelled purple-red and taut beneath the thin casing of his skin. His beefy eyes were watery, pink, and sad, sagging in their sockets. Leaning against the wall, only a decent sneeze away from this Vietnam Vet, I knew I was safe; what he had wasn’t contagious. We talked while he continuously passed a handkerchief over his brow trying to keep in-check incessant oozing moisture. What he carried in his toolbox size medicine case couldn’t fix him: “Agent Orange,” he sputtered.
How could it not be five o’clock yet? I’m dying to play a game of solitaire (one instance where I might actually WIN today), but whatever I don’t finish will just be waiting on top of the pile on Monday morning. At 7:40 a.m. I was enthusiastic, thankful to work here, grateful for my colleagues (and I am still fond of them, even in this low-blood-sugar moment), ready to plow through all the correspondence, polish off each e-mail, vanquish the filing, handle the scheduling glitches, respond civilly and helpfully to all queries, and leap tall buildings in a single bound. But now I just want to go home and play solitaire there.
While attending clinic in the CDM, Department of Oral Rehabilitation, a fourth year student was treating a chronically ill, debilitated patient whose dental health was compromised. Due to the condition of his dentition he rarely smiled. His personality and his self esteem suffered. This patient was treated in a very professional, caring manner which is typical of our dental students. Today he received two new removable prosthesis which restored not only proper oral function but also his personality. He now was smiling and grateful (to the point of tears). Every now and then in life the clouds part, the sun shines through creating a special moment. This was one of those. Our students are the best.
Today was like any other day of school and it was time to be the man of many faces. School face: It was my first day back from my rotations and it was a bittersweet day. This is because it was the end of my first clinical rotation, but it was one step closer to becoming a physical therapist. We only had one class today and it was Motor Development. This class teaches us about our progression in movement from infants to adulthood. After this class was over, I went to my work study face. It was first day back at work study and everyone was happy to see me back. Everyone in the student programs office welcomed me back and had plenty of questions for me to answer. After I got off work, it was time for my home/relax face. When I got home I finished up some work so that I could stay ahead and then relaxed from an enjoyable first day.
Today our occupational therapy alumni are back for a continuing education course and we eat lunch together. As I listen to their current stories, I reflect back on their lives as students, what I might have said or done that has been of benefit to them. I see them through fresh eyes – competent practitioners honing their skills rather than anxious students trying to master information for the first time. We are all pleased to reconnect, to revisit those days, and to revive our relationships. As an occupational scientist I think about doing professoring, how my days are shaped by the lives of those doing learning, and how we do together.
We have all been a patient before; whether for a routine doctor’s appointment, a trip to the emergency room, or a surgical procedure. For some of us, we entered the healthcare profession because we suffered from chronic health conditions and wanted to “pay it forward” for all those that took care of us during our time of need. Walking into the gold elevators to begin my nursing school clinical, I thought: How would I want to be treated? I would want to be respected. I would want privacy. I would want to maintain my sense of pride. I would want the person walking into the room to be aware of these fundamental human desires.
The medical profession as a whole exists to care for the sick. It takes a second to realize why we are all here in the first place. Leave your stresses, complaints, and negativity outside. When you walk into that hospital room, remember these patients are in a fragile state of vulnerability. We should all be mindful of this, no matter how large or small our roles in their care.
Microbalance in a lab is a little fancy. It must have the bubble within the ring of the spirit level. The bubble told me something special this summer. Early one morning I found one of my students by the balance. She exclaimed: ‘Look! how pretty. I cleaned it all. The place was so messy!’ I peeped in the rear and said: Oh no! You displaced the bubble. Weighing will be wrong. She questioned, ‘But how do I fix?’ I replied, ‘Rotating the two wheels on the sides.’ She gave it an immediate try and retorted, ‘It is not happening’. I smiled, ‘It takes a while,’ and rushed back to my office. Never remembered to check the bubble rest of the day. But I certainly did - the following day. The smiling bubble right at the center said me as if my student would, ‘Dr. Supriti, I did it!’ There were many such surprises that followed through out the summer.
Retrospectively, I feet it takes only to try and never to give up to be in research. End of summer she returned to College with Life Sciences Major and a promise to return next summer. She has the tenacity of a researcher, the bubble in the balance told me it!
I sit alone in the library. The droning sound of the pile driver has stopped for several hours now. Without that sound in the background, everything is eerily quiet. I used to have the ancient Iron Lung as a companion on these solitary nights, but she has gone a-travelin’ to Greenville. I know that I will breathe a little easier when she gets back home. The second floor of the library just isn’t the same without her. The repetitive thumps of the pile driver and the pumping bellows of the Iron Lung are both sounds that annoy, but in the long run, sounds that live.
The IV pump beeps again, and I roll my eyes. He’s bent his arm and occluded the IV all night long, time after time, every 10 minutes it seems. You know, déjà vu all over again, I say to myself as I shed my sweater and slide the rolling chair out from under me to go to his room to straighten his arm and maybe tease him for forgetting again. I think about the cool watermelon in the fridge in the break room that I plan to eat when I’m done in Mr. Smith’s room. I hope its soft, icy crunch will wake me up a bit.
I enter the room and say lilting and jokey, “I thought I told you, Mr. Smith, not to move as you sleep.” Seeing he’s still asleep, I marvel at his ability to snooze and attribute it to the Ambien. I adjust his arm and reach to re-set the pump but fumble with it despite the extra practice I’ve gotten tonight.
I awaken with my bare feet on the cold, wooden floor in my very own bedroom. Though impossible, I still hear the IV pump’s beeping echo in my ears.
I want to work in a hospital.
I do not mind the clanging bells and alarms
the chaos of scrubs and white coats
the putrid or musty or astringent smells
I am in awe here.
I watch the core goodness of humanity
when a crowd gathers working furiously to save a life
I watch the pure human love that binds us
a teenage son gently feeding his father what may be his last bites
the daughter who will not let go of her elderly fathers hand, even for a moment, wanting to offer him comfort for his next journey
I want to work in a hospital.
A Hemoglobin of 3
A Creatinine of 12
a festering wound wafting stench you can taste in your throat
a nicked aorta spurting angry red into the eyes of frantic surgeons
a morphine requirement of 160 mg BID
removing a patients socks that have literally grown into their feet
a senseless delay in quality care
the frail body embittered by their illness
These are things I can get used to
of a daughters voice
choosing her final words to her father
This has me
with my own fears