August 26, 2016
Freshly scrubbed, pockets loaded with paraphernalia, ready to go. Launched from the mother ship. I'm backstage, getting ready for the grand debut. But underneath my blue scrubs and shiny Littmann, I know I'm just a background piece, an extra body in case there is space for one more. 1. Chest pain 2. Syncope 3. RLQ abdominal pain The ER is wild and unexplored waters. I'm standing around trying to be useful. I end up defaulting to looking interested in everything instead. Hands clutching chests, misting mouthpieces, rushing gurneys, beeping monitors. The graphed representations of nervous hearts are easy to look at. Their dying counterparts with gasping and crying faces are harder to accept. I'm lost. Misplaced. Someone give me a patient to transport. 4. Headache 5. Left arm weakness An elderly lady is seizing in the next bed and everyone is calling for the doctors to come. I feel compelled to do something even though I'm the least qualified. We are watching her arms and legs shaking. Someone is preparing medication. Her shoes are kicking up from the bed in a rhythm. I can see their fluttering blue laces behind the crowd. Her arms are folding and unfolding as if someone is puppetting them to an uncontrollable dance. 6. Seizure disorder 7. Dizziness 8. Vomiting x 3d A distraught daughter is yelling and yelling. She is throwing her pain overboard to the crowd below, including me, a lowly student. I hear someone answer her. I'm frozen to the hospital tiles. We are in the business of saving lives. Well, postponing death, from our computers. And the view has never looked better. 9. Fever of unknown origin 10. 11. 12. There are ways to work with the dying. Listen, understand, hold their hand. Be silent. What are methods to cope with feeling inadequate? The usual flood of information and regurgitating at the right moment is not unfamiliar. I'm heading into uncharted waters with only a lifejacket. I'm full of knowledge. Heavy with responsibility. A burden from caring. 13. Acceptance 14. 15. You love the ocean till you struggle against the current, far from the shore.
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Penny Shutt (Accompanying painting by Sohi Mistry) I hesitate at the doorway to your side-room, ....
(Accompanying painting by Sohi Mistry)
I hesitate at the doorway to your side-room, ....
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