Coping.. N-2


It was barely two months into our clinical clerkship when I was called to rush home because of my father’s sudden, catastrophic illness.  I remember coming home on the last boat and bus trip, barely making it and spending the next 7 hours in dread of what I will see when I see my Dad. But this deserves another entry. 

After our 2 months rotation in the community, I was now in anesthesia and we’d been sedating a young boy for a CT scan when I got the call to rush home again for my Dad one final time. I did and 5 days later, after burying my Dad, I was on the 2am cargo boat bringing me back to the island to return to my rotations. This was one of the loneliest, saddest times of my life. But I functioned on all gears, cautiously fighting sleep and tears, as I avoided the men sleeping on benches in the boat terminal. It was an extremely risky situation, I remember now. To be the only female, unaccompanied,  waiting in the boat terminal at 2 am while all the other men around were porters or sleepy passengers. 

I made it back safely on the island and utterly exhausted but not taking time for a break as it was 4am and I had to make it to my duty at 630am back in the hospital, whilst not also knowing if I had to present the lecture I was supposed to give had I not been absent.


I remember just going through the motions of reporting for duty. Monitoring patients’ vital signs during surgery, giving morphine to the post-op patients and rounding at night checking if they had any adverse effects. I kept reminding myself of my Confidant’s advice right after my Dad’s funeral and while I was contemplating at the last minute the wisdom in returning so soon to my duties: “despite your feelings, you have responsibilities”. And I threw myself full force into my work, and it helped me not feel, not cry, not pity myself. It helped me wake up, get dressed, be courteous with everyone, be on time, be responsible. 

I was functioning quite reasonably well, I’m sure, to this day that I could answer questions about my father without tearing up. But I remember as I was leaving the surgical ward and into the main hallway, towards the chapel and seeing N. He gave me the requisite condolence which I acknowledged like all the others. But unlike all the others, he came forward and gave a hug that though as brief as between friends on a busy hospital service, recognized the sudden and deep loss I was acutely feeling and tried to suppress. That was all. I don’t remember what else we said, but I felt understood. I felt that someone knew how it felt, after all, N had just buried his mother about a year before I buried my father. It made me feel, without the promise of words, that I was going be okay.


we moved on to OB, and several photos of this rotation showed either you or me and C, holding one of our patient’s baby—she’d asked to take our picture. [edit: this was another patient—She was the one who gave a cake to the OB Dept and also wrote my name on the piece of paper to express her thanks.] I remember you being playful and putting your arm around my shoulder and teasing and me telling you not to do it as people so often spread rumors. I remember hating you for staying in the ward and not being in the ER and seeing the most unstable patients. And not insisting on your right to be at the ER. And joining in the hate with C. But you never complained. Those long nights when we were labor watching or at the ward. When we’d been hungry and exhausted eat the 24 hours yellow porridge they sold at the hospital canteen, and talk a bit. And we talked about how you were possibly in love with Ch and that I knew how it felt as I was in love with J—and being so close to either but too far, really.

And that one crazy time where some creep (i forgot who now) persistently bothered me with calls and how he wouldn’t believe my disinterest in him and i asked you to pretend to be my husband (it was almost midnight) to shut him up. Though I was embarrassed to ask for your help, you were so game with it and he never bothered me again to be creepy. 


Posted on January 2, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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