Anne

Hospital Corridor I worked in a hospital for over a year on the Hem/Onc floor. We were the highest Onc floor, which meant we had the most terminal patients save for the ICU just above us. The night shift was a long shift, and we would pass it at the nurses’ station talking about nothing. The nurses would tell me about each patient or go through the charts with me (which might be against JCAHO, might not be) and I’d try to absorp what I could. When a patient needed to go for a CT scan, I would take him in his bed or wheelchair and sit behind the consoles watching the slices of their body on the screen.

 

After a year, even without any training in Anatomy, you get an idea of which cancers are the worst and what they look like on the CT. You know where each organ sits in the body and what it’s supposed to look like. And more than all of that, you can tell when the CT tech is holding her breath and the physician brings his hand to his mouth that this person is in some trouble.

 

So it was with Anne. She was a little younger than me, a year maybe. She went to a college that I knew well. We might have known some of the same people. She came to our floor with her parents and sister. I admitted her, went through my “this is everything” speech after I took her vitals, and let her family know that I was only a call-button away. She was beautiful and healthy and trying to make the best of it.

 

The admitting physician called me over with a wheelchair and I took her down to CT. She asked me where I went to school, if I was a nursing student or a med student (neither at the time, but hopeful), and my age. We had a lot in common. I helped her onto the table and then went in the back with the monitors. The Tech held her breath, the doctor covered his mouth. I saw what they saw: hundreds of tumors in her liver. “Poor girl. She’s so young.”

 

Everyone was speaking less as I took her upstairs and she knew. When we were alone in the elevator, she asked me, “So. What do I have?”

 

I didn’t say. “I’m just a tech; I can’t read a CT.” Again, she knew. I brought her back to her room and she said, “thank you.” My shift ended a few hours later, but not before every nurse on the floor knew about this girl.

 

I came back the next night and I could tell that the doctors hadn’t told the family. I came back the next night and off the elevator I could hear the papers moving at the secretary’s desk above the sounds of the nurses’ conversation. They had told her. I looked at the assignments and she was my patient that day. I rounded, got all my vitals and emptied urine and talked to families. Her room was the last. I came in ignorant and smiling because I’m not supposed to know what everyone knows. Her mother met me, told me it had been a hard day for the family, and that the nurse already got the vitals. “If you need anything, please…”

 

“We know. Thank you.”

 

She became sicker, friends started to visit, and then she left for a different hospital. I never found out what happened to her.

 

——-

 

Working in the hospital, that first week, you’re obsessed with knowing everything about the patients. You write their first and last names on your record sheet, you know what they did for a living, and you look at your insensitive coworkers that don’t know their patient’s names until they read their wristband. They have patients 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 14, and 15 instead of Mrs. Hayes, Mrs. Bopp, etc. You tell yourself that you’re going to remember the names of every person. You’re an idiot.

 

I’m no different. I tried it and slowly they slipped away. Then I started forgetting the names of people that had been on the floor for weeks at a time. Then I couldn’t remember the names of the people that had died on the floor, or the ones I had watched die. Then I couldn’t remember even 10 of them.

 

But I’ve always remembered Anne. Everytime I feel the year I spent in Hem/Onc slipping away and I can’t remember the nurses’ and the doctors’ and the patients’ names, so long as I remember Anne I feel like I haven’t lost it all. And I wonder how she’s doing. And I worry about her often.

Advertisements

24 Responses to Anne

  1. Jarrad says:

    What exactly is it about medical training that pounds all of the sympathy and empathy out of you? The constant long hours, endless mental struggle, and eternal endurance. I’m still at the point where I like to think of my patients as people, but I’ve also been in places where I got so busy that they were all just illnesses and injuries with bodies attached.

    There are a few patients I’ve had that I too will always remember. Those few cases that open your eyes to something new and different and sad.

  2. […] Your blog started out like a collection of letters home, before turning out gems like Anne and Cracked Lips. How did you get your start, and why did your writing change? […]

  3. Yaolin says:

    Wow. This is a really powerful piece of writing. Thanks for sharing.

  4. […] own diction (you can laugh at that). But slowly I started to write things that were a little more naked and personal, and it was from these things that I received the strongest responses. Soon, the goal […]

  5. diet pills says:

    This basically suggests that you will be able to eat anything that you want without the worry of gaining weight.
    Assuming this is the case, we determinedly sway you to read the whole page.
    I appeared into Adiphene to find the reality about its fats- and calorie-burning results.

  6. google says:

    Search engine optimization (SEO) is a method designed to improve the
    flow of organic visitors to a website by achieving a higher ranking within search engine result pages (SERPs).
    In your Ad – Words campaigns you must wisely find high profitable keywords, the “buyer kind” of keywords.
    Play by the rules and it can be a great way to increase income or even begin a new career.

  7. powerblock adjustable dumbbells

    Anne | the rumors were true

  8. is phen375 safe

    Anne | the rumors were true

  9. where can you buy phen375

    Anne | the rumors were true

  10. where to buy meratol

    Anne | the rumors were true

  11. weight loss pill that works

    Anne | the rumors were true

  12. weight loss pills that work

    Anne | the rumors were true

  13. You wont find Adiphene in your native pharmacy or some huge store like Walmart or Walgreens.
    Safety is also assured when taking Adiphene because of its natural ingredients, which means that serious side effects are unlikely to happen if taken as directed.
    The science behind Adiphene consists of 12 of probably the most power fat preventing ingredients known.

  14. where can i buy phen375

    Anne | the rumors were true

  15. overcoming anxiety disorder

    Anne | the rumors were true

  16. compare breville juicers

    Anne | the rumors were true

  17. ringing in the ears

    Anne | the rumors were true

  18. acne product reviews

    Anne | the rumors were true

  19. ironmaster adjustable dumbbells

    Anne | the rumors were true

  20. facebook says:

    Newcomers to China may be faced with the question of “How can I open Facebook in China. This works to access blocked site anywhere, because it’s mostly by your IP address that your ISP is able to block access to certain sites from your phone or computer. Yet so many people are either unaware of them or do not fully understand the ramifications of the content they might share online.

  21. home gym equipment

    Anne | the rumors were true

  22. proactol ingredients

    Anne | the rumors were true

  23. vegetable juicer

    Anne | the rumors were true

  24. panic away downloads

    Anne | the rumors were true

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: