Archives for posts with tag: medical staff

georgia 1

Ambulant in Twilight
by Roger Patulny

Everything is blue-black
she starts late from a nap
scattering bank statements;
Jack jumps across the covers till she
smacks him with a pillow toward his basket for his dirty PJ top
and mask of royal blue
while his father beeps his Tucson in the driveway.

The sky is a magenta smear
she runs the steel-blue bus down, now
hollow as a broken shoe, and
gasping, texts a joke to Jack about
a bus all stuffed with painted toes as she
sits among the statues, distant masks of colour
stiff against the racing cobalt of the clouds;
ambulant in twilight.

She ties her hair beside the sliding door
between a raft of tests;
temperature, symptoms, hot spot lists,
she drinks her herbs and
sticks her COVID coloured dot spot
to the cornflower of her dress
and gasps and laughs
to the flicker of fluorescent
tearoom lights
about the empty pallets
bare of masks and sanitiser,
and worries with her colleagues if
there will be enough for after?

She does the dance of donning
body bound in sterile gown and plastic covers for her shoes
a wimple of a balaclava, goggles, mask
and face shield last but for the
double gloves
and walks the sober, foggy path along the designated blue line.

Freshly unwrapped forceps
lie sweatless on the tray
of basic instruments tonight
she passes a retractor,
worries Jack is not in bed
and dreams of holidays, colour books and cigarettes
till the diathermy smoke
from the cauterised flesh
produces aerosol and risk
and she sighs and dons again.

Disposing of the Rampleys stained with
umber antiseptic
his dad calls with the bad news;
he can’t do next week after all, away
and so she pleads again to change her shifts then

puts the needle holders down,
exits to her favourite band
to get a can of cocktail from the café, then
texts Jack to say good morning and
don’t be late for school and
shuts her eyes to feel the sun.

PHOTO: Georgia Brown at work in a hospital in Australia. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The creative approach behind this poem started with a focus on the lived experience of my friend Georgia, and the challenges she goes through balancing a highly complex job as a surgical nurse with caring for her young son as a single parent. The poem evolved as she revealed complexities about the fascinating work she does — from dress procedures to use of instruments — and the complications COVID has brought to this world and to her life and well-being.

roger

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roger Patulny is based in Sydney, Australia. He is an academic, writer, and poet, with fiction published in the The Suburban Review and poems in CorditePoets Corner InDaily, the UK arts magazine Dwell TimeThe Rye Whisky Review, Indolent Books, and the Mark Literary Review; excerpts and links to Roger’s recent published creative works can be found here.    

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March/April 2020
by Attracta Fahy

My son calls from Los Angeles, six
thousand miles from home,
lockdown already begun—

“Sleeping at the hospital”

his visit home cancelled.

Next day I call him; no answer
Messaged—
What’s up mom?
Busy here—All ok?

For three weeks—just texts;

12th March
Can’t talk
ok? Getting bad here

15th
Lost three patients today
Placing tubes in four

18th
It’s worse—working non-stop
you ok?

21st Mother’s Day—Ireland
army called in

Don’t worry you’ll see me when
it’s over

22nd
Ploughing on trying to see people
as more than patients, a number, a graph
on a screen, pictures in a camera

24th
Supplies arrived today—constant admissions
I love you mum

25th
When this is over I’m flying you to me

27th
Struggling not to think; the loneliness,
patients not allowed loved ones, only us.

28th
N95 glued to my face, we won’t all make it,
friend died, two colleagues sick in NY,
preparing for the worst

Don’t worry! taking vitamin C

29th
Will get worse before it gets better

Stay safe mum, worried you’ll get it

1st April
Shutting pumps moment after death
and on to the next—every room emergency

One body bag after another, eight this morning
others waiting for a ventilator.

2nd
First day off in eighteen; called back—surge

Tested—have antibodies, must have got it—
mild fever three weeks ago
thought it was exhaustion

3rd
Wish I could travel to help at home—
here is home too.

5th
It’s terrible here

7th
Robby tested positive, flying to New York
to see him, colleagues covering my shifts

11th
Robby passed—I’m heartbroken mum

Devastated

14th
I’m working—very low
I should be strong!

I call; horror and grief in his eyes
hair almost grey,
“I’ve seen too much, mum”

PHOTO: Empty freeway during early days of quarantine in Los Angles, California (March 2020). Photo by Drew Tilk on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My son lives and works on the frontline in Los Angeles. He has had a very difficult year and at present is feeling the consequence of the grief and trauma he witnessed and experienced over the past few months. Although sad, he remains positive, determined, and brave. He is lonely, but thankfully has wonderful friends and colleagues, a great sense of humour, a mischievous character who loves to make others feel happy. He is comical, entertaining, and very loving. When I started to write, I was overwhelmed with my own sadness, so as I want this to be about him, I decided to use some of his messages and texts to me over one month during the pandemic. It gives a sense of the connection between mother and son who are 6,000 miles apart. It is also in some part a diary and record of this time.

attracta and deacon

AUTHOR’S NOTE ABOUT HER SON: My son Deacon Emmet Farrell moved from Ireland five years ago to train as an anesthesiologist in the State University of New York. His dream was to live in America. Despite dyslexia, he earned a degree with distinction in Genetics in University College Cork, afterwards earning a masters distinction in Molecular Medicine in London University UK. Following this, he began a postgraduate degree in medicine in University College Limerick. After finishing medical school, he began an internship in Beaumont Hospital Dublin before taking up his residency in New York. After qualifying with awards as an anesthesiologist,  he received a Fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Los Angeles, and moved there in August 2019. In October, he contracted and overcame bacterial meningitis. His colleagues and the staff where he worked were exceptional in taking my calls and reassuring me. I was to visit for his graduation in July 2020, and he was due to visit home in August. But neither of us could travel because of the restrictions. During the pandemic, Deacon lost colleagues, patients, friends, and his close friend Robby. Despite this, he remains dedicated and committed to his work, deciding to stay on and live in Los Angeles. We miss him terribly in Ireland. Love and prayers to all of you.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken at JFK airport in New York City during April 2019, just before my son graduated as an anesthesiologist. We met at the airport as I arrived from Ireland, and he came straight from a night shift still in his scrubs.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Attracta Fahy’s background is Nursing/Social Care. She lives in County Galway, Ireland, works as a Psychotherapist, and is mother to three children. She completed her MA in Writing NUIG ‘17. She was October winner in Irish Times, New Irish Writing 2019, and is a Pushcart and Best of Web nominee. Her work has been included in a number of anthologies, shortlisted for Over The Edge New Writer, and Allingham Poetry. She was a featured reader at the January Over The Edge Open Reading in the Galway City Library. Fly on the Wall Poetry published her debut chapbook collection, Dinner in the Fields, in March 2020.