Bridge of Compassion
Judy Schaefer ~
How can I write a poem, nurse, in this pelted room? Nurse? Nurse!
Memory loss, southern pine--nurse, this is not a poem-writing-room
The floors ooze resin at your footsteps
Spanish moss, from every wall
Spongy trod of medical students
Surgery went well, anesthesia lifted
Cologne of betadine, a boarish root for a vein
at the same time each morning. I welcome
the lady of the mop--tincture of mossy pine
back and forth, she says her prayers. She is my alarm clock.
I peek from crusty eyelids and dread the washcloth
Back and forth--path and path--room and nurse
How does one begin a poem? How to start?
Anesthesia has lifted long ago
I try to remember how I got here
Jessica Greenberg ~
"Code Blue, Interventional Radiology suite," blare the overhead speakers.
I am a new third-year medical student, doing my first rotation in internal medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital. This morning, I've been rounding on patients with my medical team.
The alarm sends us lumbering down the halls, struggling to keep our clogs from falling off our feet, clutching our white jackets to our chests to keep the pockets full of stethoscopes and pens and patient lists from bouncing.
Arriving in the IR suite, I stop about twenty feet from the middle-aged woman lying in the patient bed. More than a dozen physicians and nurses crowd around her, obscuring my view.
Dianne Avey ~
One night on my nursing shift in the cardiac intensive-care unit, I received a new patient from the operating room: an eighty-eight-year-old woman who had suffered a major heart attack and had just undergone emergency coronary-artery bypass surgery.
Her bed was wheeled into the room along with the usual accoutrements: six different IV drips, a ventilator, an aortic balloon pump and various other lines and monitoring devices. Her name, I saw on the chart, was Mrs. Green.
The young surgeon took me aside.
"I don't care what it takes, just keep her alive for twenty-four hours," he told me, clearly more worried about his surgical-outcome stats than he was about Mrs. Green's welfare. The hospital and insurers kept data on these procedures; it didn't look well for a surgeon to have too many patients die during or right after surgery.
"No problem," I replied confidently and went right to work, adjusting drips to maintain her blood pressure, cardiac output and heart rhythm.
Despite my efforts, Mrs. Green's health status remained very unstable. Her heart was extremely weak, and she showed signs of brain damage.