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The Magic Touch

Betsy Willis ~

Many months have passed since the spring day when I was hit with the news from my yearly mammogram, but those typewritten words are forever etched in my memory: “The density appears greater in left breast.”

My doctor comforted me with statistics showing that mammograms aren’t 100 percent accurate–but she also lost no time in sending me to a surgeon, Dr. Prewitt. Upon meeting him, I immediately felt sure that

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Simple Acts

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

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Who Would Want to Do This?

Kristin Beard ~

“Get the patient on the monitor.”

“How long has he been down? Someone get on the chest!”

“Keep ventilating. He’s in v-fib. Defibrillate at 200.”

“Charging, everybody clear?…Shock delivered.”

“Resume compressions. Push one of epinephrine…Hold compressions. What rhythm is he in?”

“He’s asystole, resume compressions.”

We repeat the process a hundred times over. The medic said they started coding the patient an hour ago. The

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Suzanne

 
I still remember the night I decided to become a nurse. My eight-year-old daughter had been admitted to the hospital following an emergency appendectomy, and I stayed overnight on the pediatric unit with her. A nurse named Suzanne came on at 11:00. She had short blond hair, a pink jacket and an air of matter-of-fact confidence. I can’t picture her face any more, but I can still see her hands–checking my daughter’s dressing, using

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Teaching the Wound

Joanne M. Clarkson

                    For LS

Assume pain, I tell them, the young, the
minimum-waged, those who work the midnight
shift with no chance for stars. We lean
over the bed of a 93-year-old man with advanced
Parkinson’s disease. His face is
frozen, even his eyes don’t seem to move
unless you watch the sheen. These

student aides are

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tender mercies killackey

Tender Mercies

 

Janet Killackey

About the artist: 

“I have always been interested in art. I chose nursing as a vocation, but my interest in art continued to grow, in fits and starts, during my forty-five years in health care. I have worked in many areas of nursing practice and also in many mediums–charcoal, pen and ink, oils, watercolors

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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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On the Road

Josephine Ensign

As a community health nurse, I work with homeless and street-involved teenagers. In almost thirty years of doing this work on both coasts, and in Thailand and Venezuela, I’ve gotten to know thousands of young people living on the margins of society.

I love working with them; they challenge me to see the world–and myself–in a broader way, one that opens up vistas of hope for positive change and a better future.

And

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Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter

Cortney Davis

Spring

Thirty weeks,
and the baby’s not moving.

I listen to deep silence.
Then, the pregnant belly wakes.

From beneath the mountain,
thunder singing.

Summer

The final day of OB rotation
the medical student has a choice–
see the last patient of the day
or run to the coffee shop for a milkshake?

Milkshake wins!

What will I say when they ask

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Palliative Care

Stacy Nigliazzo

When I cut the stem
I knew it was just a matter of time.

I cleared the sill
and filled a crystal vase.

The petals unfurled.
The smell of summer pierced my skin

for three days.
When the first leaf fell

I added lemon pulp and crushed
an aspirin;

cut away all that waned–
the shoots were

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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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