Five Photos, Five Stories/Hard Time Marrying(Part 3)

wagon in barn

By the time Joe pulled his mules to the door to unload his wagon, it was sleeting.  His life had never looked more hopeless as he brushed the icy hay from the tattered quilt covering the children’s burning faces.  Though it was unchristian, he’d half-hoped to find them already dead from the fever, solving his problem of how to care for them.  He struggled to get them into the cold cabin.  Laying them gently on his bed and covering them, he was able to rouse each enough to get a bit of water down.  Setting the cup to the side, he moved on the fireplace to uncover the banked ashes, put a stick or two next to the backlog, rekindling the fire.  At least they wouldn’t die of thirst of cold.  That’s all he could do for them for the moment.

He hurried in with the provisions, the pathetic mercy the town had shown, leaving to get his horses tended.  Rushing through his tasks, he miserably returned to the burden of the sick children fate had forced upon him.  Upon entering the cabin, sight meeting his eyes  nearly undid him.  A filthy, battered woman dressed in rags was cradling the little girl, tenderly spooning her milk , catching droplets and spooning them back.  God in Heaven!  Would this nightmare never end? Had he buried the woman alive and now she’d crawled out of the grave?

Lessons from Michael

A few months into my first nursing job, I met Michael, the patient who put me on the road to true nursing. Still limping down the painful road from enjoying success in nursing school to putting it into practice, I drove home most days thinking, “I can’t go back tomorrow. I can’t go back tomorrow.”  I lived in terror of getting caught alone with a patient whose survival depended on all that “nursing magic” that had so far sailed over on my head.  Orienting on an acute dialysis unit, my only useful skills were a pretty good nursing vocabulary, understanding of aseptic technique, and the complete understanding that there was no question too stupid for me to ask.  I would have never have made it if my supervisor had been one of those who “ate her young.” (terrorized new nurses) Continue reading