Archive for the ‘Afternoon Shift’ Category

To Marieliz

“The human capacity for burden is like bamboo — far more flexible than you’d ever believe at first glance.” My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult

I hate cancer.

My grandfather died of prostate cancer. My grandmother died of rectal cancer. And now, my Aunt is currently battling cervical cancer.

So imagine my dismay when I found out I have four kids for chemotherapy today…

Yes, kids! as young as one year old are now diagnosed with cancer. I slipped into the reverse isolation room and that’s where I met you, Marieliz. You were the oldest among the troupe, yet still so young to be sickened with cancer. If it weren’t for your pink pajamas I would’ve thought you were a boy. You’ve lost all your hair already, an expected reaction of your body from the chemo drug. It must have been hard to look at the mirror and see a bald version of yourself especially now that you’re approaching the stage of adolescence. But we both know there are far bigger issues than that.

I’ve learned you have been brawling leukemia your whole life and I was exalted to know you win everytime. How else would you reach 12 years of age? Of course you weren’t alone in this battle. Your mother was with you all the way. When I look at her, I see a mom who would dive into the ocean to save her drowning daughter even if she knew it would drown her too. She was a fighter just like you.

For someone with cancer, you seem so joshing. Every time I walk into your room you never ran of stories to tell. I remember how you spoke of your travels in Manila and how it topped the list of The Best Memories with your family. I remember how you recounted the day your sister developed a crush on another school boy, and made you wish you’ll have that feeling too. I remember how you long to come home and  would often call your sisters and ask them to come visit. And I remember the look in your eyes when they failed to do so.

You’ve always displayed a vicious energy, and so one day when you weren’t bantering of how your day was going I  knew something wasn’t right. I scanned through your chart and found that you have Pancytopenia which means you are low in everything: RBC, WBC, and Platelet. Any minimal infection could kill you now.

I don’t know how many units of blood we had infused in your system. All I remember is how you killed death every day that you lived. Your mom couldn’t be more proud.

But we all know you cannot cheat death all the time. Somehow, someday..your body’s gonna give in.

And yes, leukemia had finally consumed you. I performed your CPR in an attempt to bring you back to life, but knew too well that it was good-for-nothing. When the doctor asked me to stop, your mother jumped into my position and took over the CPR. At this point you’d think she’d already accepted your fate but no, she just couldn’t let go. It was almost too painful to see. And there I realized no matter what, no one would fight harder than your own mother for you.

I left the room. I left your mother to deal with her grief alone.

I know you have many questions in mind, Marieliz. Questions that I cannot even decipher. If you’re going to ask me how cancer snatched away your life, I can give you a detailed answer for that. But if you’re going to ask me why’s, I’ll leave that to the Big Guy up there. Don’t worry, your family will get by.

As for your mom, she is stronger than ever and can now overcome anything life throws at her. You taught her well, remember?

Sincerely yours,

Your Pedia Nurse


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To John Paul

Today marks your 5th day in the hospital.

Yesterday, while we were doing our usual nursing rounds, I couldn’t help but smile at the sight of your condition. You were a far cry from the state that I had admitted you. I could still remember how you looked that day: pale and paper-thin. And even if the ER nurse didn’t mention your diagnosis, I could  tell you were suffering from Pulmonary Tuberculosis. You got it from your mother, I heard. It confounded me that it was your Aunt and Uncle who brought you to the hospital. But it only took a few minutes of nurse-patient interaction to find out both your parents are already dead.

I wanted to say “I’m sorry for your loss, John Paul.” But I kept silent. Because you know what, it isn’t really your loss..but your parents’ loss for not knowing such a wonderful son like you. It didn’t take five days for me to conclude that because since our first meeting, you have already shown me admirable traits that not all kids of your generation possess.

You never fail to say “thank you po.” In fact, you were so polite you would often mistakenly call me “Doc.” And you would give me that sheepish smile every time I would  remind you that I am your nurse, not your doctor. I remember, on your first night in the hospital, you were having a fever of 39.7 C. If I didn’t see you shivering in your sleep I wouldn’t have noticed. Because that’s how you were, you would rather endure the discomfort than cause it yourself.

I searched for your doctor to prescribe you with some anti-pyretic drug. But unfortunately that night, your doctor was much needed in the other department. And so I had to do what a registered nurse wasn’t really allowed to do. I calculated the drug dosage base on your body weight and had given you IV paracetamol without a doctor’s order. But don’t worry John Paul because as soon as your doctor came, I informed her of your condition and she had prescribed the same medication with the exact dosage that I had given you.

You had three drugs prescribed for you: Oxacillin, Ceftazadime, and Streptomycin. All these require a skin test prior to the actual giving to check if you were allergic to any of the drugs. Before doing that, I explained how you were going to experience a bit of pain in the process. I would usually do that to prepare the patient for the great discomfort  they’re going to feel, which isn’t really effective considering how kids loathe injectables. But you were different, John Paul. Not a single ache was heard from your mouth nor a slight movement from your body. Not only were you kind, but you were also brave.

Tonight, as I am going on my night duty, I am not sure if I’d still see you. I would have guessed your doctor might have ordered a discharge for you in the morning. But nevertheless, I would be happy. Not because you have lessened my patient count tonight, but because I know all is well with you. You deserve an enjoyable childhood beyond the walls of this hospital..so go forth John Paul. And never come back.

Sincerely yours,

Your Pedia Nurse.

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