Today was my first real day of work.
I was on an oncology unit at Mass General. I was incredibly happy when I first arrived, despite the rain that wet my scrubs. Sadly, this happiness was abruptly overturned by the apathy and passiveness that the receptionist gave me. It was as if I approached her with an invisibility cloak. She didn't even glance at me at all. Granted, even a glare would be better. At least I would've known that you acknowledged me. She didn't and the next receptionist took me. It's funny encountering this situation immediately after coming fresh out of orientation where everyone hypes you up about having secured a position at MGH. I really thought their standards were better. Beats me, but no institution is perfect.
My preceptor wasn't there and to make it short, I was arranged with someone new. I'm happy I did - she was seriously something admirable.
My day consisted of hanging one bag of platelets, four bags of blood, a lot of vital signs, and saline and heparin flushes. I had lunch in the Herscot Atrium, a beautiful lobby area with sleek, modern, wooden chairs, open space, greenery, and a view overlooking Boston a bit. I was enjoying my salad with avocado when I noticed that a woman was crying in one of the long chairs, being consoled by someone who could've been her husband. Then the thought flashed in my mind: how many emotions run through this place at one time? Just a second ago, an old man looked delighted reading the newspaper . . and right before that the two women talking in the other chair looked happy and were laughing. And the girl who sat next to me looked really angry. And the nurse behind me on his iPad . . well, you get the point. Things that don't cross your mind too often. It was kind of interesting to think about. A hospital really is a charged place.
After lunch, I still liked my job but I was getting really sleepy. Luckily, my nurse, Christina, treated me to an iced coffee. It's adorable to me how idiosyncratic Coffee Central is to MGH. It's just one of the buzz centers and always has coffee flavors of the day. I tried the chocolate mint mojito, which 'was a little disappointing only because I didn't know where the mojito went. I appreciated it nonetheless.
The best and worst part of the day was saying goodbye to my patients. It's such a beautiful thing to me. The fact that when you first meet these people, not only are they opening up the gates for you to completely care for them. They almost have no choice but to trust you. And when you think about hard-headed, stubborn people who naturally build walls around themselves out of fear of getting hurt, that's saying a lot. Because they have no way to go but trust.
Secondly, not only is the relationship opened up on the premise of trust, but the warming-up period is marginal as you consider that you're trusted to handle and help them through their most vulnerable, intimate moments. I noticed that from the get, during my first clinical rotation at MGH sophomore year on Ellison 16 while giving a man a bed bath. I had just met this man and barely knew his name. Yet hours later, I was in his room, helping him get cleaned up behind the privacy of curtains that did little to hide the shame and helplessness he must have felt getting washed up by two young up-and-coming nurses.
That happened today. Three times. To make matters more intense, these patients were on a floor that, at times, becomes something like a palliative care floor.
I said goodbye to one of my patients and he was a little short of breath and it was hard to hear and understand him. I leaned in closer to hear what he had to say. By the motion of his lips, I made it out to be a "thank you."
Would you look at that. Not that much time left, and he invested what energy he had left in these challenging past few months to tell me that. I felt bad I had used up his energy - he could've used those words for family closeby or something.
Regardless, it was a great day.