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Fateful Encounter

Amy Eileen Hiscock

I cannot take my eyes from his face.

It has been destroyed in the wreck, along with the rest of his body. His head is misshapen, bloodied. Someone has tried to staple together one of the larger lacerations–extending diagonally across his face and under his chin–but there was little point. They gave up partway through.

I have never seen a dead body. I am twenty-five and in the second of five terms

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Last Rites

Candice Carnes

In 2002, I was living in Albuquerque and working as a nursing assistant. My staffing agency had assigned me to a medical surgical floor at a hospital in Santa Fe, a fifty-minute drive away.

One day, as I was enjoying the high-desert beauty en route to the hospital, a code was called.

The patient’s name was Sam, as I recall. It could have been anything, but Sam is the name that echoes in

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Stardust

Audrey Cortez

Years ago I worked as a registered nurse in a busy surgical pre-admission clinic, preparing patients who’d been scheduled for surgery for the upcoming operation and hospital experience.

My workdays were packed with back-to-back, hour-long appointments. Whatever surgery the patient was facing–oral, orthopedic or anything else–every interview followed the same format. I would greet the patient, who’d often bring along a family member, and quickly escort them both into my small

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Nineteen Steps

Priscilla Mainardi

Tuesday morning, eight o’clock, and I have seven things to do. Check vitals, change a dressing, get a patient out of bed, send another to the operating room. Review lab results, give medications, start a blood transfusion.

I have six patients, and they have an average of five morning medications each. I make three trips to the med room for supplies, two trips to the pantry for fresh water. 

Mrs. Napoli has eight

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Missing Piece

Ray Bingham

I entered the hospital by a back door. It was evening. As I walked down the quiet corridors, their cinder-block walls, green paint, tiled floors and soft fluorescent lighting granted me a superficial sense of familiarity: I’d walked these halls countless times over the last five years.

Now, however, I also felt a bit apprehensive. I was

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Hospital Corners

Eileen Valinoti

“And now, as we finish up, we’ll need to put our blankets away. I want you to fold them like this,” announced my yoga teacher–a bit sternly, I thought. With swift, deft hands, she began to demonstrate. Something in the tone of her voice and the sharp jut of her chin brought me back to Miss Coyle…

Miss Mary Coyle RN was the nursing arts instructor in my first year of training, more

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The Cruelest Month

Ray Bingham

One day in April, I took the assignment none of the other nurses wanted: Baby Michael. A hopeless case. 

Born almost four months premature, weighing barely a pound, he was now all of six days old. His entire body wasn’t much longer than my open hand. As he lay motionless on a warming bed with the ventilator breathing for him, the night nurse gave me report: serious intestinal infection, bowel surgery, septic shock,

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Coming Full Circle

Stacy Nigliazzo

Only thirty minutes into my evening ER nursing shift, and I was already behind. My first patient was a pregnant teenager with heavy vaginal bleeding. “About three months, I guess,” she flatly replied when asked about her last period. As we placed her legs in the stirrups for the pelvic exam, torrents of blood and water rolled into the kick bucket on the floor.

Dr. Parkman had barely opened the speculum when we

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Cure

Veneta Masson

In Latin it means care,
conjures priests and temples
the laying on of hands
sacred pilgrimage
sacrifice
the sickbed
invalid and
solemn attendants.

How far we have come.
Today’s English 
has neatly expunged 
these purely human elements.
Cure is impersonal, consequential
unequivocal, sometimes violent–
the annihilation 
of the thing that ails.

This nurse 
approaching the patient
has discarded temple garb
for practical scrubs. 
His gloved hands 
unsheathe the magic bullet,
shoot it through

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The Women of Victoria Ward

Muriel Murch

I remember 
The women of Victoria Ward.

The laughter of Liz,
before there were good prostheses
before falsies
left, right or bilateral
were built into the cup size of your choice.
Pacing the corridors
and knitting.
Ready to go home.
Building her strength
with a strand of yarn 
Tumbled upwards from the empty cup
against that scarlet scar
beneath the bodice 
of her bright summer dress.

I remember 
Winnie’s eyes
watching feces pour

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Rx

 Veneta Masson

Politicians…were quick to rise to the defense 

of a particularly vulnerable population. As a group, 
dual-eligibles [Medicare-Medicaid] have incomes below 
the poverty rate…and take an average of 15 medications a day.

 

Washington Post
January 14, 2006

 

This is how it works: 
as wealth trickles down 
to the poor and old 
it turns into pills.

 

So M and S, their slender portfolios 
long since depleted, can still
compete for bragging rights.

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