Archives for posts with tag: nurses

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Photo by Castaldo Studio, used by permission. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have advanced kidney disease, which also causes anemia. I have to monitor my hemoglobin on a regular basis. Last year, an internal bleed sent me to the hospital for almost two months. When I learned two weeks ago that my hemoglobin had dropped very low again, I immediately thought “Here we go again!” But the idea of going anywhere near a hospital right now was frightening too. Usually, they want a referral at the hospital, but this time, thanks to the wonderful nurse who took my urgent call, I was taken right away.  I spent about eight hours there altogether, but it would have been much longer in normal times. The wait is not usually five minutes; it is usually several hours. I cannot thank the staff at the hospital enough for their care, their professionalism, and for the way they put themselves on the line every day. At no time did I ever feel at risk, other than from my own body!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol A. Stephen’s poetry appears in Poetry Is Dead, June 2017, and numerous print publications, including Wintergreen Studios chapbooks, Sound Me When I’m Done and Teasing the Tongue. Online poems appear at Silver Birch Press, Topology Magazine, The Light Ekphrastic, and With Painted Words.  She won third prize in the CAA National Capital Writing Contest, and was featured in Tree’s Hot Ottawa Voices.  She served on the board for Canadian Authors Association-NCR and co-directed Ottawa’s Tree Reading Series. She has five chapbooks, two released in 2018 — Unhook, catkin press, Carleton Place, and Lost Silence of the Small, Local Gems Press, Long Island, NY.  In 2019, Winning the Lottery, Surviving Clostridium Difficile was published by Crowe Creations.ca. Visit her blog at quillfyre.wordpress.com.

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The Caregiver
by Alarie Tennille

I’m wearing a mask
like I’m part of the medical team.

For the second time
in three days,
I’m sitting on a gurney,
watching my blood pressure creep up, up, up
on a monitor
as I’m prepped
for surgery. Try taking
deep breaths.
No help.

Then she arrives
with her I’m here for you smile
and reassuring hand on my arm.
“Would you like a warm blanket?”

Nothing short of waving a magic wand
could be better. Why must operating
rooms be icy? She tucks me in.

In my mind, she’s the same nurse
who went through the same steps
48 hours ago, but I know she isn’t.
Slowly and clearly she explains
what will happen next. Asks,
“Any questions?”

She sees me –
an intelligent human being,
a rational adult who minutes ago
felt like a weepy five-year-old,
but who now wants to show
this mom surrogate
how brave I can be.

Photo by Woraphon Banchobdi, used by permission. 

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As my poem indicates, the wonderfully efficient and calming nurse represented her type. The nurse I had two days earlier also performed her job like I was the only person needing her complete attention in that moment. I’m sure they told me their names, but I wasn’t in any shape to remember those. If either one happens to see this, I hope they’ll feel the gratitude. You can tell from my recent photo what part of me required surgeries, though I’ve been having fun telling people I’ve joined a pirate’s crew. For those curious to know the real story, let’s just say I knew it wasn’t going to be a routine cataract removal. The nearly two-hour operation resulted in complications requiring a second, longer, emergency surgery and a much longer recovery period. It’s been several months now, and I’m just starting to feel human again, but wear the patch to spare you.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alarie Tennille graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she serves on the Emeritus Board of The Writers Place. Her latest poetry collection is Waking on the MoonHer first collection, Running Counter Clockwise, was first runner-up for the Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence (both books available on Amazon). She was recently honored to receive a 2020 Fantastic Ekphrastic Award from The Ekphrastic Review. Please visit her at alariepoet.com to check out her blog and learn more about her writing.

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At the Hospital
by Leslie Sittner

The ambulance pulls into a dedicated emergency bay, and I’m carefully and quietly unloaded and wheeled into the small receiving area—no waiting room! The EMTs give my information to a masked person who wheels me into an adjacent private room. Everywhere it is quiet. Lights dim. Barely audible footfalls. No frantic, frenzied, dramatic emergencies. Everyone covered in fresh-looking PPE. I realize that I’ve done the right thing. I relax a bit. Soon the various nurses and eventually the physician attend to my three broken nasal blood vessels with calm reassuring descriptions of the next procedural steps. Three super-sanitary hours later, I am released with protocols to follow-up with an ENT for a TeleHealth visit.

This frightening emergency event was treated with the most personal and caring attention and best professional efforts that anyone could hope to experience.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Unloaded at one dedicated ambulance ER bay.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Not only do we honor our first responders for their bravery and service but all family, friends, and neighbors deserve our gratitude for their generosity, care, and concern. My neighbor retrieved me from the hospital and brought me safely home; her husband calmed the dog, let her out, and fed her after cleaning and disinfecting the bathroom and putting the bloody towels in the washer to soak.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Hospital lawn sign acknowledging all within.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner’s print works are available in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press (2016 -17-18-19-21), Adirondack Life Magazine, BraVa anthology, and read on NPR. Online poems and prose reside at unearthed, Silver Birch Press, 101Words, 50 Word Challenge, 50 Word Stories, Epic Protest Poems, and Adirondack Center for Writing. A collection of essays about European travels with her ex-husband in the late 1960s awaits publishing. She is currently editing the memoir written by her ancient dog while compiling her own book of haiku with photographs.

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Back from the Front
by Anita Haas

“They kept coming. Delivery
vans, mail trucks even.”

Every 8 p.m. we emerged, blinking,
from our cozy, book-lined
bunker, to applaud you
from our rooftop.

“It was a trade center turned field hospital.”

And every night we stared
at the coiffed, heeled announcer, pointing
at rising columns on charts
labeled “Infections” and “Deaths.”

“And they lay them on the sidewalks, some
already dead. The families forbidden to say goodbye.”

But the media already told us;
No masks for you, garbage bag
capes. Shortage of
beds, ambulances, ventilators;
patient-lined corridors, ice rink morgue.

“The nearest sink was 800 metres
away. We couldn’t wash them. The smell …”

But TV sucks reality out of things. Tricks
you into believing it’s all just a movie.

“Many colleagues with families didn’t go home
at night, afraid of infecting them.”

But you were real. Telling me,
blinking down at your coffee, voice
wavering. After it was all over.
For now, at least.

“But I did. After my shift, I’d collapse
on the couch, hug my dog, and sob.”

PHOTO: Healthcare workers in Spain dealing with the coronavirus crisis applaud in return as they are cheered outside their hospital on March 26, 2020. Photo by Iago Lopez, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Lockdown here in Spain was especially severe during the months of March, April, and May. We were restricted to our homes and only permitted to leave, unaccompanied, for work, food, or medicine, and within a one kilometer radius. At 8 p.m. the streets rang out with applause from balconies. Since we don’t have a balcony, we rediscovered our building’s rooftop, where we could stretch our legs, applaud the healthcare workers, and get some vitamin D.  When we could finally leave and see people, I met up with a nurse friend of mine. Her story inspired this poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anita Haas is a differently abled, award-winning Canadian writer and teacher based in Madrid, Spain. She has published books on film, two novelettes, a short story collection, and articles, poems, and fiction in both English and Spanish. Her poetry has been featured in Quantum Leap, River Poets Journal, Poetry Quarterly, Vox Poetica, Verse Virtual, Wink, Songs of Eretz, Parody Magazine, Silver Birch Press, and Founder’s Favourites. She spends her free time watching films and enjoying tapas and flamenco with her writer husband and two cats.

PHOTO: The author on her rooftop during lockdown.

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I Do Not Know Your Name
by Ann Christine Tabaka

I do not know your name,
but you were there for me,
there for everybody.
I was hurting,
I was scared,
I needed help.

It was a frightening time – it IS a frightening time.
There are no answers, only questions.
The world is upside down.
There is nowhere to turn that is safe right now.
You stood there – a soldier for the cause,
letting me know / letting everyone know
it would be okay.

Quietly, efficiently, you did what you needed to do.
I was in your capable hands as I was rolled into surgery.
You were / are one of the countless,
behind the masks,
wearing white or green.
You put your life at risk every hour – every day.
Tirelessly you work to save others,
thinking little of yourself and your own needs.

Many would not be here today without you,
an angel in scrubs and sturdy shoes.
You are one among a rank of caring souls,
that reach out with a passion for life.
You left my world as quickly as you entered,
but you are there, always there …
I do not know your name – you are every Nurse.

PHOTO: Guardian angel nurse by Sathish Kumar Periyasamy, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is a true story. I am 69 years old and needed surgery during the midst of the pandemic, when many elective surgeries were put on hold. I had to find a new doctor since mine had left the area.  The new doctor was wonderful, and scheduled me to have the surgery within two weeks’ time. All the nurses and technicians at the hospital were wonderful and caring. I never learned all of their names, but each one treated me as if I was the most important person in the world at that exact moment.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ann Christine Tabaka was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She is the winner of Spillwords Press 2020 Publication of the Year, and her bio is featured in the “Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2020,” published by Sweetycat Press. Internationally published, she has won poetry awards from numerous publications. Her work has been translated into Sequoyah-Cherokee Syllabics and into Spanish. She is the author of 11 poetry books and has recently been published in several micro-fiction anthologies and short story publications.  A resident of Delaware, where she lives with her husband and four cats, she loves gardening and cooking. Her most recent credits are The American Writers Review; The Phoenix; Burningword Literary Journal; Muddy River Poetry Review; The Write Connection; The Scribe, North of Oxford, Pomona Valley Review, Page & Spine, West Texas Literary Review, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Foliate Oak Review, The Stray Branch, The McKinley Review, Fourth & Sycamore. Visit her at annchristinetabaka.com and on her Amazon author’s page.

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Nurse
by Mary McCarthy

She knew death
Was always in the cards
Whether slow or sudden
The eventual outcome
Coming to us all
Knew it from the first
Days in training
Hands and mind learning
All the sorrows of the flesh
The ones we hope to cure
And those we can offer
No more than comfort
And she knew it never was
And never would be easy—
But now the cruel terms
Of this pandemic
Teach an even harder lesson
Forcing so many
To die among strangers
With no beloved face
No familiar voice
Or hand to hold
Without the chance to speak
One last time
Silenced by the machine
That breathes for them
Stealing all the words
They might have said
She is there for them
Day after day
Behind her mask and shield
Her gown and gloves
Her living heart
Taking on the burden
Of loss after loss
Bearing witness and comfort
In her hands
The last to see them
To touch and speak
To be with them
And forever
Remember all their names

PHOTO: Nurse wearing PPE. Photo by Anupong Intawong, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I was recently in the hospital for Covid-19, and witnessed the nurses on the pandemic’s front line as they kept all the quarantine protocols in action, and were invariably kind through all the stresses of working on a ward with all patients in isolation, many critically ill, while they worked long shifts wearing layers of protective gear. For someone, like me, who had been a nurse, this pandemic carries a sense of solidarity and understanding for the front-line workers. I had to spend a (blessedly) brief time on the Covid unit of my local hospital when pneumonia made the simple act of breathing an exhausting struggle. I watched the nurses as they kept strict isolation with care and efficiency, putting on all the cumbrous gear every time they entered my room, stripping it all off when they left, being careful not to carry things from room to room, and yet being unfailingly kind, responsive, and observant. Their situation working in this environment reminded me of my own experiences when AIDS was something new and deadly that we knew very little about, and everyone worked with apprehension as well as dedication and determination to give the best care and be the best advocate for the patient, who was also frightened, and often without much real family support.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. She is also a writer whose work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, and has an electronic chapbook,  Things I Was Told Not to Think About, available as a free download from Praxis magazine.

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House Sparrows
by Kelley White

–after Mary Oliver

–for Annie, Janine, Frances, Kathleen & Linda

You do not have to be brave.
You do not have to come into work
when the disease flares
or chemotherapy
leaves you retching.
You only have to let the dear spirit of your
body heal
when it heals.
Tell me about your pain, yours, and I will listen
despite mine.
Meanwhile this life goes on.
Meanwhile the children laugh and the sweet bubbles of
their laugher
are singing across the ghetto
over abandoned houses and crack vials,
over the empty lots and projects.
Meanwhile the brown and gray sparrows, busy in the dull
gray sky
are building their nests.
I know you, I think of you living alone,
I praise your hope and dedication,
I watch you work like the sparrows, steady and
faithful,
building and rebuilding your peace
in the anger of life.

Published in Philadelphia Poets, July 2008

PHOTO: Sparrow building a nest. Photo by Mehul Agrawal, used by permission. 

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This older poem came to mind when I began reading the wonderful work in the PRIME MOVERS Series. Many of my co-workers, the mainstays of the urban neighborhood health center where I have worked for nearly three decades, are older women with underlying health conditions. (Actually, that group includes me.) Throughout the pandemic they have continued to arrive daily to serve their duties as the unsung workers in the health field—reception staff, medical record clerks, medical assistants, telephone operators—often needing to take several types of public transportation. Many are well past retirement age (two are in their eighties!) but are still the major wage earners in their families. They face anxious and challenging patients with few thanks. I hope I remember to respect and thank them.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This 1989 photograph shows a pregnant me (right) with one of my favorite medical assistants. We worked together from 1983 till about 1990 in an urban community health center. Remarkably, I still work with a medical assistant who was at the center several years before I joined, which is nearly 40 years ago. I spent 1983-2008 at a federally qualified health center in a tough part of Philadelphia then moved back to my home state, New Hampshire, to be near my mother in the last decade of her life, working at a rural FQHC from 2008-2018. I never thought I’d return to Philadelphia but after my mother’s death at age 91, I found myself with grandchildren in the city and returned to the original health center, finding an aging but still dedicated staff and now see many grandchildren of my original patients.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books.) She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.

PHOTO: The author with granddaughter Evelyn.

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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.

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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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THE POETRY OF POTATO SALAD
by O.P.W. Fredericks

Making a good bowl potato salad is not unlike writing a good poem. The selection of ingredients are important to both. When selecting the potato there are many varieties, russet, white, red, and yukon gold to name just a few, are like selecting the right words. Do I peel them or leave the skins on? Do I expose the meaning immediately, or conceal it in a thin layer that must be savored for all its flavor. Are they in big pieces or small, bumpy or smooth, old or new?

For the basic ingredients of potatoes and words they have to feel right, but they must be given the opportunity to sit a spell and be spelled right. How do I want to dress them, plain with mayo, salt and pepper, monorhyme, strophes and periods; or do I add the extras; celery and commas, onion and Ottava rima, hard boiled or Haiku – scrambled or Spondee? Do I use eggs and Enclosed Rhyme at all? A little mustard with your Meter might be nice, or sliced pickles of poetic diction, but do I want a sweet sestina or the dill of dactyls? Paprika you say, well why not some prose, if for nothing else, color is pleasing to the eye. Capers in couplets? Why not. Crumbled bacon is always nice as is a comedic ballad.

Finally there’s the presentation. Enjambment and enjoyment, how does it taste? Do you savor their flavor on the tongue as you chew, or do you swallow them greedily intent to get your fill? Are they deserving of study to appreciate the subtle complexities in the flavor of the words?

It’s up to you.

Visit the author’s blog at opwfredericks.com.

ABOUT O.P.W. FREDERICKS (in the author’s own words): I was called the nursing profession in the fall of 1976. After thirty-two years of caring for the sick and injured at the bedside and in other capacities, I chose a new path, that of writer and poet. As I embark on this new journey I continue to walk the path of nurse, though in a lesser capacity during this time of transition. I cannot help but be influenced by the teachings from my professors, but more so by the people I have known as patients and fellow human beings.

Watercolor: “Feta potato salad with garlic, chives, and tomatoes” by Debra Morris, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Find a recipe for Feta Potato Salad at thecornerkitchen.com.