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Medical Humanities

The First One

Derick Nelson Jenkins

April 29, 2016

It was years ago,
but I remember the lines on your face, your red hair, your curly beard, your voice.
You were the most stable person in the unit, 
“a floor patient.”

I remember you talking on the phone that night,
I think it was your daughter.
You looked good, 
close to going home to her. 

Then the nurse paged.
“He doesn’t look right.”
Then came the blood,
brisk as could be.

“Initiate the massive transfusion protocol!” 
I didn’t even know what that was, being new.
I called the seniors who were asleep at home. 
“Get here now!”
As they raced in, the moon drifted behind the clouds.
They stopped the bleeding, 
stabilized you.

But then,
it happened again.
We lost you.

I still think of the woman on the other end of the phone.
How is her life, 
without you?
Did she recover?
Could she?
Do memories of you haunt her as well?
She may be thinking of you now, remembering you, as I am.

They tell you “The first one stings.”
Hundreds of patients later,
it still does.

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